Do you think a top pair defenseman will be traded at the deadline like Jacob Trouba or Kevin Shattenkirk considering a top pair 'D' is so valuable and there are so many variables with expansion, a flat cap, etc. If you wanted to relate it to a specific team, will the Rangers acquire a top pair defenseman at the deadline? -- @SLE17
My answer today is no because from everything I have heard and seen the prices for these high-valued players are high, and teams simply aren't willing to pay them. My answer as we get closer to the NHL Trade Deadline (March 1, 3 p.m. ET.) might change because the prices might change. In addition, I haven't heard much on the Trouba front since he signed a two-year contract on Nov. 7. He could still be traded, but only if the Winnipeg Jets don't see him as a part of their future. And if that's the case, the Jets don't have to trade him now. They can wait until the offseason.
The St. Louis Blues are in a brutal position. They don't want to see another player leave for nothing in return the way that David Backes and Troy Brouwer did last summer as unrestricted free agents. That's the only reason to consider trading Shattenkirk, who can become an UFA after the season. The Blues, though, are a potential Stanley Cup contender with the way they have played under coach Mike Yeo. Goalie Jake Allen has found his game. Shattenkirk would be a big part of their team and their push if they don't trade him, which is why the price to acquire him would be so high, as in a top prospect, a first-round pick and a player off of the roster that can help St. Louis now. That's a lot to pay for a potential rental, even if the team acquiring him has a real need for him and would want the jump on signing him to a new contract.
That team should be the New York Rangers, but that doesn't mean it will be because of the cost.
This is a tricky situation for the Rangers. To acquire Shattenkirk, who brings an obvious need as a top-pair right-handed defenseman, they would have to pay a hefty price for a player who might be with them for only a few months. Shattenkirk, who grew up not far from Madison Square Garden in New Rochelle, New York, could decide he wants to sign a long-term contract with the Rangers, but if they know that why would they give up so much to get him now? Shattenkirk could sign with New York on July 1 and it will cost the Rangers only money and cap space. They'd probably have to buy out defenseman Dan Girardi to make it happen, but such is the business. However, the Rangers would consider acquiring Shattenkirk now because their window of opportunity to win is now and they're a good team with a legitimate chance. But maybe that's the same reason they wouldn't get him. They believe in their team and maybe think a cheaper depth addition is all that is warranted to win in the Eastern Conference.
Like I said, it's a tough spot, but that doesn't mean the Rangers won't make a play for Shattenkirk. They should make that play. I'd do what I can to get him now. They have firepower up front. They have depth. They need a righty who can move the puck from the back end. He's the guy to get.
Video: STL@WPG: Shattenkirk, Stastny combine for nifty PPG
Who do the Minnesota Wild lose in the expansion draft? Also, can the Wild beat Chicago in the playoffs? Big hurdle. -- @JCZERN
Guessing game here, but I'll say defenseman Marco Scandella. He turns 27 on Thursday and is a top-four defenseman making $4 million for three more seasons. He's not flashy, but he's solid. The Vegas Golden Knights will need players like him. He'd be a good get for the Golden Knights. And I don't think the Wild will protect him because they would hope he gets picked. They need to clear cap space for forwards Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter, who are all restricted free agents after the season.
Video: NYI@MIN: Scandella wires a wrist shot past Halak
However, I will say that making predictions like this is sort of a fool's errand at this point because we don't know if the Wild are going to make any roster additions before the trade deadline and we don't know their protection list in general. So I guess I'm a fool.
We know as of now they have to protect defenseman Ryan Suter and forwards Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville unless any of them waive their no-movement clauses. My guess is if they all are steadfast with their no-movement clauses the Wild will also protect Coyle, Granlund, Niederreiter, Eric Staal, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Devan Dubnyk. They might protect Jonas Brodin instead of Dumba, and they undoubtedly would love to protect Zucker, but the only way they do that in my opinion is if one of Pominville, Parise or Koivu waives his no-movement clause. Pominville might (the other two will not, nor should they), but I've heard only if he gets assurances he won't be picked.
Center Erik Haula could be a target as a potential third- or fourth-line center. Haula is a pending restricted free agent who is making $1 million this season. He'd be a cost-effective addition who could anchor a bottom-six line. Dumba would also be a quality addition for Vegas if the Wild opt to protect Brodin.
As for the second question, yes, the Wild can defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in a playoff series because they're deeper and bigger than they have ever been. I really like Staal, Koivu and Haula down the middle. However, I'd still pick the Blackhawks to win the series. Just saying.
Video: A look at the rivalry between the Wild and the Hawks
What is your take on how the top four teams in the Metro will finish the season standings-wise? -- @nyrprpokemon
1. Washington Capitals
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. New York Rangers
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
I think the Capitals will hang onto first place, especially since the Penguins are dealing with injuries to defensemen Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz. Forwards Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary are also out. The injuries won't hurt the Penguins' chances of winning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they will prevent them from catching the Capitals. The Penguins should hang on to second place, though.
The Blue Jackets have a brutal schedule coming up with 24 games, including 14 on the road, in the final 44 days of the season starting Saturday. It will be difficult for them to hold off the Rangers despite the fact that they'll have two games in hand when they return from their five-day break. The Rangers will play 12 of their next 18 games on the road, but they've been a good road team all season (19-8-0).
Who are your favorites on the list of players you feel don't get enough recognition? Mats Zuccarello is definitely one of mine. -- @whoopoi
Zuccarello is definitely one of those players for me. Topping the list would be Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who would be a perennial Norris Trophy candidate if he played in a market with a larger media presence. I'd also put on the list the following players: Spurgeon, Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson, Florida Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene, Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin, New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas, Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman, Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson, Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano and Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen. There are likely more than I'm missing.
Why isn't Matt Murray getting more Calder Trophy consideration? He's [fifth] in save percentage [.924] and [seventh] in goals-against average [2.32] among goalies with 25 games played [entering play Tuesday] -- @Gill_Josh8
It's a great question because he belongs in the conversation. However, I think there are a few factors with this, starting with the fact that Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Jets forward Patrik Laine are having remarkable rookie seasons, too. And they are true rookies, meaning they had no NHL experience before this season. Murray was a household name going into this season because he won the Stanley Cup last season. I'm not saying that's a reason to discount him from the Calder Trophy conversation because clearly he is a rookie and falls within the parameters for inclusion in the voting process. He probably will get votes, but if Matthews and Laine each finish in the top five in goals, each potentially with 35 or more, it'll be hard to put Murray in over them despite the fact that Murray is having a strong season. Murray was also injured at the start of the season and didn't play in October. Matthews hasn't missed a game this season. Laine missed eight with a concussion.
Video: DET@PIT: Murray robs Sheahan twice with glove stops
Are the Arizona Coyotes going to relocate? -- @coebasaw
Not according to co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc, who has been unwavering in his desire to build the Coyotes brand in the desert with a new arena in the East Valley. As LeBlanc once told me, if the Coyotes' ownership group wanted to pull out of Arizona and relocate the team they would have done it already. The window of opportunity has been open to them numerous times, and yet they have stayed and fought to continue to build the brand. I don't think they are going to give up now. I have to take LeBlanc at his word on what he said in a statement Feb. 9 in response to local reports that the ownership group was looking at options outside of Arizona.
"Recent reports by the Glendale Star that the Coyotes ownership group has explored arena options outside the Arizona market are completely false," LeBlanc said. "The Star referenced an anonymous arena source and an anonymous Coyotes source, and these are a fabrication. The Coyotes are focused on creating one of the most taxpayer friendly facilities in the country here in the Valley. This new arena will pay for itself, create jobs and generate millions of dollars of revenue for the state, county and municipality where it's built. We are fully committed to Arizona."
After the trade deadline, Marc-Andre Fleury will be playing for the ________? -- @petefrompitt
The better question is to ask who Fleury will be playing for next season. My guess is the Carolina Hurricanes.