NHL Rumor Mill – May 18, 2017
Latest on the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs plus an update on Kevin Shattenkirk in your NHL rumor mill.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: In two recent mailbag segments, Helene St. James replied to readers’ questions over possible offseason moves by the Detroit Red Wings. She believes it’ll cost more than the Wings’ first-round selection (ninth overall) to pry defenseman Cam Fowler out of the Anaheim Ducks.
The Wings are looking to upgrade on defense and must decide what they’ll pay to land one, which could cost up to a high-end prospect or young player. If former Red Wings blueliner Brendan Smith hits the open market on July 1, she suspects they could try to bring him back to Detroit. She also wouldn’t be shocked if Steve Ott returns, though that’ll depend upon who they lose via the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings were linked to Fowler in last summer’s trade rumors, but I think we can rule out the possibility that he’ll be on the trade block this year. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agency next July but they appear keen to re-sign him.
Still, I think the Wings could target the Ducks or the Minnesota Wild to address their blueline needs. Both clubs risk losing a blueliner in the expansion draft. Perhaps they’ll also speak with the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators. Upgrading their blueline, however, will be costly, as the asking price could be their first-round pick in this year’s draft plus one of their promising forwards.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan recently reported it seems unlikely the Washington Capitals can afford to re-sign defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. The Capitals have 11 players eligible for free agency (six restricted free agents) and have limited cap space. Shattenkirk skated on the Capitals third-pairing but seeks a top-pairing role. Free-agent speculation links him to the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights could provide him that role as well as a desirable amount of money.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Capitals re-signing Shattenkirk. The Rangers could pursue him but they could also explore the trade market first. The Golden Knights could certainly give Shattenkirk the money and role he wants but he could prefer playing in the Eastern Conference.
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle believes the Toronto Maple Leafs could have sufficient salary-cap space (around $15 million) once everyone is signed to pull off a big move in an offseason where some teams could be desperate to shed salary. He believes the Leafs need a high-end right-shot defenseman, a fourth-line center if Brian Boyle departs via free agency, a backup goalie if they don’t re-sign Curtis McElhinney, depth on defense and a possible long-term left winger.
Mirtle suggests perhaps going after a right wing via free agency (such as Alex Radulov, T.J. Oshie or Justin Williams) in order to shift William Nylander to center. Or perhaps adding Patrick Eaves to bolster the left wing. Or adding Martin Hanzal or Sam Gagner to replace Boyle. Whoever they add, Mirtle advocates bringing them in on short-term deals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Mirtle observes, the Leafs are sitting in a good spot this summer, as that cap space gives them some interesting options to consider. I expect they’ll make a significant move this summer to improve their blueline depth. They must ensure, however, that they don’t burn up too much long-term cap room. They’ll need that to re-sign Nylander, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to new contracts over the next couple of years.