Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – December 30, 2018
The fallout from Stars CEO Jim Lites’ harsh critique of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, plus updates on Artemi Panarin and Kevin Shattenkirk in today’s Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
AS THE STARS TURN
SPORTSNET: Assessing the fallout from Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites’ pointed, expletive-laden criticism of captain Jamie Benn and linemate Tyler Seguin, Nick Kypreos said the two players were blindsided by Lites’ remarks. He wonders where they go from here and believes the NHLPA would also like to have a say in this matter. Kypreos also speculates the PA and perhaps the league might take issue with Lites’ use of profanity while critiquing the players’ performance.
Elliotte Friedman reports Stars owner Tom Gagliardi said Lites’ comments weren’t about trading anyone or firing anyone. With the club in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year, he wants his best players to be at their best. Given how much the Stars have invested in payroll and where they stand in ticket sales this season (23rd), Friedman suggests “all bets are off over the future of Dallas” if they fail to reach the playoffs.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Burnside reports Lites’ comments weren’t a spur of the moment thing but the result of long-percolating frustration over the club’s overall performance and that of Benn and Seguin. They also came with Gagliardi’s blessing and reflects concern over where the Stars sit in the Dallas marketplace and the urgency to finally realize their much-heralded potential.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lites’ remarks may be considered a wake-up call by the front office toward the Stars players in general and Benn and Seguin in particular. Nevertheless, his harsh words will raise questions over the direction of the Stars and the futures of their two best players, especially if they fail to reach the playoffs this season.
There’s no question Benn and Seguin would attract considerable interest in the trade market if ownership agreed to put one or both on the block. But as Cap Friendly indicates, both players carry expensive contracts with no-trade protection. Finding an acceptable trade partner with the right return won’t be easy.
If such a move were to take place it won’t happen during the season. Look toward the offseason, when teams have more salary-cap room and a willingness to swing blockbuster deals.
UPDATE ON PANARIN
SPORTSNET: While questions remain over Artemi Panarin’s future with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nick Kypreos reports his agent said the winger doesn’t want to be traded and intends to see out the season with the Jackets. He remains non-committal over a new contract. Panarin is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. “Many believe inside our industry that he’s still destined to look at free agency, test the market, and the Rangers remain the odds-on favorite to land him next season,” said Kypreos.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as the Jackets remain a playoff contender, Panarin won’t be going anywhere this season. If they can stage a lengthy postseason run, perhaps that’ll make the winger more amenable toward a new contract with the Jackets.
SHOULD THE RANGERS SHOP SHATTENKIRK?
NEW YORK POST: With the Rangers’ hopes of reaching the 2019 playoffs a pipe dream, Larry Brooks believes coach David Quinn should “start coaching toward the trade deadline and build the value of his players, even if that might not align with the short-time objective of winning the next game.”
Brooks feels that applies “specifically to Kevin Shattenkirk,” who is expected to return from injury soon. With two years remaining on Shattenkirk’s contract ($6.65-million AAV) and a limited no-trade clause, he believes it might be best to play the blueliner on the top power-play unit to increase, if not establish, his market value.
Meanwhile, Brooks believes pending UFA winger Mats Zuccarello has done little to improve his trade value since recently returning from a groin injury. Rather than wait for an unlikely bidding war, he feels the Rangers should be aggressively shopping Zuccarello now in hopes of landing a deal equivalent to the second-round pick and decent prospect they received last season in the Michael Grabner trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk was signed in 2017 when the Rangers still believed they could contend for the Stanley Cup. Now in the midst of a roster rebuild, the soon-to-be 30-year-old blueliner no longer appears to fit into their long-term plans. His age, annual salary, 10-team no-trade list, recent injury history, and declining production make him difficult to peddle. Zuccarello, thanks to his UFA status in the summer, would be an enticing rental player.