NHL Rumor Mill – May 30, 2017
Latest on the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs in your NHL rumor mill.
CBS NEW YORK: Pursuing a top right-handed defenseman tops Sean Hartnett’s five-point plan for improving the New York Rangers this summer. Kevin Shattenkirk is the best blueliner potentially available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market but the cost of signing him could prove expensive. Shattenkirk could command seven-year offers worth up to or over $6.5 million annually.
They could go the trade route to acquiring a younger blueliner. If they wish to pursue someone like Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba, however, they’ll have to give up an impressive package to get him. If goalie Antti Raanta goes unclaimed in the expansion draft, Hartnett wonders if he could be included in a deal to tempt the Jets, who need to land a legitimate starting goaltender.
Hartnett also advocates getting younger on the blueline, perhaps by buying out Dan Girardi or Marc Staal, sticking with center Derek Stepan, ride out the final season of winger Rick Nash’s contract and allow young winger Pavel Buchnevich to grow into a top-six role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk hasn’t proven he can be a reliable top-pairing defenseman. Signing him could be a risky gamble that could prove costly down the road. You’ve got to give to get, and it could cost them one or two good assets to land a good young defenseman.
The Rangers could target the Anaheim Ducks or Minnesota Wild before the expansion draft, as those clubs risk losing a good blueliner to the Vegas Golden Knights. They could also touch base with the Carolina Hurricanes, who are deep in young defenseman and in need of scoring punch. However, the Canes could be unwilling to deal with a division rival.
WGR 550: If the Buffalo Sabres decide to trade left wing Evander Kane this summer, Andrew Peters suggests bringing back former Sabre Thomas Vanek via free agency as a replacement. Peters argues the 33-year-old winger still has some game left in the tank and he would be an affordable option.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can never say never, I suppose, but I don’t see Sabres GM Jason Botterill bringing back Vanek if he trades Kane this summer. He’s older and slower and that doesn’t make him a good fit on a club that’s building around youth and speed.
THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle recently suggested the Toronto Maple Leafs should spend more this summer to bring in a better backup goaltender who can play around 25 games per season. He wonders if they can get in on goalies who could be exposed in the upcoming expansion draft, such as Washington’s Philipp Grubauer, Colorado’s Calvin Pickard, the Rangers’ Antti Raanta and Detroit’s Jared Coreau. The Vegas Golden Knights can draft up to three goalies but Mirtle notes they really only need two. Landing one from the Golden Knights, however, could cost the Leafs an asset.
Mirtle suggests the free-agent market might be the better way to go. Possible options include Philadelphia’s Steve Mason, Calgary’s Brian Elliott, Tampa Bay’s Peter Budaj, Vancouver’s Ryan Miller or Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mirtle also points out Mason could prefer being a starter somewhere, Elliott’s been inconsistent and Miller probably prefers staying on the west coast. Still, if they can land someone like Budaj on a short-term deal it could be worthwhile.