Lyle Richardson is a contributing writer to THN. His Rumor Roundup has been a regular feature since 2007. He also runs the website spectorshockey.net. A Canadiens fan married to a Leafs fan, Lyle's Saturday nights during hockey season can get quite entertaining at his home.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remains a fixture in this summer’s NHL rumor mill. Most of the chatter still ties the 27-year-old to the New York Rangers, suggesting he could be swapped for left winger Rick Nash.
During a recent live chat with his readers, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was asked what forward the Blues would have to package with Shattenkirk to land the 32-year-old Nash. Citing Nash’s $7.8-million cap hit through 2017-18, Rutherford proposes including Patrik Berglund ($3.7 million) or Jori Lehtera ($4.7 million) with Shattenkirk’s $4.25-million cap hit to offset the difference.
NBC Sports’ Jason Brough believes the Blues would be making a big mistake trading Shattenkirk. He argues they could be undervaluing Shattenkirk’s worth to their D-corps.
Shattenkirk eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agency is the main issue driving the trade rumors. Brough acknowledges the Blues’ concern about fitting a raise for him under their cap space for 2017-18.
At the start of this NHL off-season, the woeful performance of Dallas Stars goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi generated talk of a possible change between the pipes. They had the worst combined goals-against (2.78) of the 16 teams entering the 2016 playoffs. Their woeful 3.23 GAA was a significant factor in the Stars’ second-round elimination.
According to NBC Sports’ Jason Brough, it’s unlikely Stars GM Jim Nill will shake things up before the start of the season. Nill opted not to buy out Lehtonen or Niemi this summer, probably because of the expense.
Lehtonen, 32, has two years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million, while the 32-year-old Niemi is also signed through 2017-18 at a cap hit of $4.5 million. Buying out either goalie at two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining tenure would’ve taken a significant chunk out of the Stars’ cap payroll over the next four seasons.
The great guessing game over where unrestricted free agent prospect Jimmy Vesey will go is the prime topic in the NHL off-season rumor mill. However, there’s still some speculation kicking around over several current veteran free agents.
The remaining pool of UFAs grew shallower this week. Center Antoine Vermette signed a two-year, $3.5-million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, while right winger Radim Vrbata returned to the Arizona Coyotes on a one-year, bonus-laden contract.
2015 Lady Byng Trophy winner Jiri Hudler is the most notable player still available. The 32-year-old right winger spent last season split between the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers, netting 46 points. Once the Vesey sweepstakes is over, Hudler could attract interest from clubs seeking scoring depth.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports defenseman Kris Russell is still waiting for a few teams to free up some salary-cap space. The 28-year-old shot-blocking specialist was considered among this summer’s top UFAs.
Top college prospect Jimmy Vesey is expected to announce this week which NHL team he’ll be signing with. His decision could come as early as Tuesday.
Entering this week, NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti lists the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs as the contenders for Vesey’s services. Other clubs could also try to sign the promising youngster.
The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa observes New York Islanders GM Garth Snow attended one of Vesey’s on-ice workouts. Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is interested in pursuing Vesey. TVA Sports claims several sources say the Montreal Canadiens could also get into the bidding.
Once Vesey makes his choice, the clubs that lose out could turn to either the trade or free-agent markets to bring in an affordable scoring forward.
Free-agent pickings are slim. Forwards Jiri Hudler, Radim Vrbata, Alex Tanguay, Matt Cullen and Brandon Pirri are the best of the bunch. At this point, all could be had for inexpensive short-term deals.
With the NHL off-season now in its dog days, notable trade and free-agent activity has slowed to a crawl. As a result, speculation over where promising free-agent prospect Jimmy Vesey could end up is garnering headlines.
Vesey, 23, is the 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner. Earlier this year, the Buffalo Sabres acquired his rights from the Nashville Predators in hopes of signing him to an entry-level contract. However, Vesey is eligible for unrestricted free agency on August 15 and intends to test the market.
For the past two months, it was believed the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs were front-runners for Vesey’s services. The college star is a Massachusetts native who grew up cheering for the Bruins. Meanwhile, his brother and father are employed by the Leafs.
As August 15 approaches, however, there are conflicting reports over where the Bruins and Leafs stand among the Vesey suitors.
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s made no secret of his desire to add a top-three defenseman. How he’ll address that need remains a topic of interest for Red Wings fans this summer.
If Holland goes the trade route, he could draw upon his forward depth for bargaining chips. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press suggests winger Tomas Tatar could be used in a trade package to bring in the help the Wings need on defense.
In a profile of winger Gustav Nyquist, MLive.com’s Ansar Khan speculates the 26-year-old could become a viable trade chip.
Tatar and Nyquist surfaced in the rumor mill earlier in the off-season due to their disappointing performances in 2015-16. Having reached career-highs in points in 2014-15, Nyquist’s production fell from 54 to 48 last season, while the 25-year-old Tatar’s dropped from 58 to 45.
TSN.ca’s Kristen Shilton recently listed five questions the Toronto Maple Leafs must still address this summer. Among them was what to do about right winger Joffrey Lupul.
The oft-injured Lupul, who turns 33 in September, has two seasons left on his contract at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million. He also carries a modified no-trade clause. Shilton wonders if the Leafs will ride out those remaining seasons, package Lupul in a trade, or try placing him on long-term injured reserve.
While the Leafs successfully dealt away supposedly untradeable players such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and David Clarkson, Lupul won’t be easy to move. His trade value is low and few teams can afford his cap hit.
The Leafs could try shipping him off to a club with lots of cap space and no notable restricted free agents to re-sign, such as the Carolina Hurricanes ($16.7 million in cap room) or the New Jersey Devils ($13 million). However, these teams are all above the salary-cap minimum of $54 million and aren’t facing any pressure to take on another contract.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remains the focus of off-season trade chatter. Much of it links the 27-year-old blueliner to the New York Rangers.
During a July 29th live chat with his readers, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch acknowledged the speculation of the Blues shipping Shattenkirk to the Rangers for left winger Rick Nash. He didn’t dismiss the possibility of this deal taking place.
Rutherford notes the Rangers need to replace departed D-man Keith Yandle. He also cites Nash’s ties with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, and the winger’s skills and veteran experience could help the Blues.
Given Nash’s $7.8-million annual salary-cap hit over the next two seasons, Rutherford believes the Rangers would have to retain some salary. He also suggests other players would have to be involved to make the deal work.