Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Five expected offseason moves we're still waiting for

The dog days of the NHL offseason got a nice jolt on Monday when the Senators and Rangers hooked up on a decent-sized trade. The deal sends Derick Brassard and a seventh to Ottawa in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a second, improving the Senators’ top six while adding some youth to the Rangers and giving them some additional cap room to work with.

The trade also answered one of the offseason’s lingering questions, which was: When are the Rangers going to get around to doing something? We were all told to expect a busy offseason in New York, as GM Jeff Gorton would look to shake up his aging and expensive core. But until this week, not much had happened aside from a few minor free agency signings. Trading Brassard isn’t exactly a blockbuster, but at least now the Rangers are on the board.

But that still leaves a few more stories lingering in the “still waiting” file. Here are five moves everyone went into the offseason expecting to see that still haven’t happened yet.

The move: The Kevin Shattenkirk trade.

Heading into the offseason, it seemed as if Shattenkirk was the most likely blueliner to be on the move. With UFA status a year away, it just didn’t seem as if he was part of the Blues long-term plans. And with holes in the lineup created by other departures and several teams on the market in the hunt for defensive help, trading Shattenkirk seemed like the most obvious move for Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong.

Why hasn’t it happened yet?: The short answer is that Armstrong hasn’t found the right deal yet. But that just leads to the next question: Why not? It’s not like the market for defensemen suddenly dried up this summer; between P.K. Subban, Shea Weber and Adam Larsson, there’s been as much talent on the move as ever, and maybe more. But in Shattenkirk’s case, the move might get complicated. He’s one year away from free agency, so teams may be reluctant to acquire him without a firm sense of how much they’ll have to pay to keep him.

Odds that it still will: High. It just seems like this one has gone too far down the road to be pulled back now, with Shattenkirk’s agent going as far as calling a deal “inevitable” a few weeks ago. Maybe Armstrong has to lower his asking price, and maybe that brings teams like Edmonton back into the mix.

What if it doesn’t?: It’s going to seem awkward if training camp arrives and Shattenkirk is still a Blue. Still, having him in the lineup wouldn’t be the worst thing in the word for a legitimate Cup contender. Conventional wisdom says that you just can’t let a player like that reach free agency without trading him first, but as the Lightning showed with Steven Stamkos last year, sometimes it’s better to stay the course. Still, that’s risky territory for the Blues, and it’s hard to see how this gets that far.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News

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