NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2017
Latest on Kevin Shattenkirk and speculation over whether the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres should shop their 2017 first-round draft picks.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited NHL insider Pierre LeBrun telling Montreal’s TSN 690 on Tuesday he doubted the playoff struggles of Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will adversely affect his value in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.
LeBrun noted the lack of skilled depth for blueliner in this summer’s market, especially for a “right-handed transitioning offensive defenseman” such as Shattenkirk. He suspects New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero could be among the club’s pursuing Shattenkirk via free agency in July.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Justin Tasch suggests the New York Rangers could be better off re-signing UFA blueliner Brendan Smith than chasing Shattenkirk in the free-agent market. Smith’s “been everything the Rangers hoped, a sharp blue-liner with plenty of bite, and some bark to go along with it” in this year’s playoffs. While Smith is due a raise over his $2.75 million cap hit, he’d be more affordable than Shattenkirk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils’ cap space could give them an advantage in bidding for Shattenkirk’s services. He could be interested in joining the Rangers but Smith’s play could give them something to think about entering the offseason. With the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild likely to shop a good young defenseman before the expansion draft, and perhaps the Carolina Hurricanes shopping one for a scoring forward, maybe there won’t be as many suitors for Shattenkirk come July 1.
NJ.COM: Chris Ryan doubts the Devils will shop the first-overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft. The last time such a pick was dealt was in 2003. He also notes the rarity of a team having the top pick in the draft. “It represents an opportunity for the Devils to add a young, immediate-impact player who could help the Devils become a playoff team in the short and long terms,” writes Ryan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible, but unless Devils GM Ray Shero gets an offer too good to resist, he’ll retain that pick. Considering there’s no certain franchise player in this year’s draft, I think it’s unlikely Shero gets that offer.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington suggests whoever becomes the next GM of the Buffalo Sabres should trade their first-round pick (8th overall) for an NHL-level defenseman. He believes winning next season “has to be an immediate priority” and improving the blueline “is paramount.” Harrington advocates packaging that pick to a defense-rich team such as Anaheim Ducks or Minnesota Wild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Harrington isn’t saying that’s what the next Sabres GM will do, but it is an interesting suggestion. The Ducks and Wild could seek an affordable return for one of their defensemen. While this year’s draft isn’t considered a deep one, a top-10 pick will still be an enticing trade chip.