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.
Shattenkirk would be a fine replacement for Yandle. The New Rochelle, N.Y., native would probably accept a contract extension from the Rangers. It's debatable, however, if Nash could help the Blues.
When healthy, Nash remains a significant offensive threat, as his career-high 42-goal performance in 2014-15 attests. The problem is the 32-year-old winger was sidelined by injuries in 2013-14 and 2015-16, hampering his effectiveness as a power forward. His best seasons appear behind him.
Finding a spot for Nash on the Blues forward lines is another issue. Jaden Schwartz, Alex Steen and Robby Fabbri take up the top-three left wing positions. Fabbri could be moved back to center or to right wing to make room for Nash, but that could also mean bumping down Schwartz or Steen.
Nash could be moved to right wing, but he'll have to skate on the second line. Young star Vladimir Tarasenko has the top-line spot sewn up.
Having cut ties with veterans David Backes and Troy Brouwer, Nash could certainly provide experienced leadership. But Blues management could be looking toward their growing core of young players, which includes Tarasenko, Schwartz and Fabbri, to take over as the team leaders. If so, they could have little use for an aging, expensive winger such as Nash.
REMAINING UFAs WILL SETTLE FOR LOW TERM AND DOLLARS
On Monday, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed unrestricted free agent center Sam Gagner to a one-year, $650K contract. That's a considerable drop in salary for the 26-year-old Gagner, who earned $4.8- million per season on his previous deal.
Gagner's new contract certainly doesn't bode well for the players still available in this summer's UFA market. Defenseman Kris Russell was rumored to be seeking a multi-year deal worth between $5-$6 million annually. Now, he'll likely have to accept a one- or two-year deal worth close to the $2.6 million per season of his last contract.
Russell is among NJ.com's current list of this summer's top-10 remaining UFAs. Former Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jhonas Enroth and Vancouver Canucks right winger Radim Vrbata were also among the notables.
On July 25, it was reported the 28-year-old Enroth was close to a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since then, however, there's no indication the signing will take place.
Vrbata, 35, was recently linked to the Arizona Coyotes. The club's buyout on Tuesday of center Antoine Vermette could clear some cap space for the Coyotes to add the veteran winger, who played six seasons in Arizona. However, Coyotes GM John Chayka could have other plans in mind.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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