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Mailbag: Nolan Patrick would look good in Devils uniform

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the May 3 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday through the course of the 2016-17 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

The New Jersey Devils have to take Nolan Patrick with the No. 1 pick, right? -- @Fonzi15 

They don't have to. They can trade the pick they won in the NHL Draft Lottery and try to get a top defenseman. They can trade the pick in a package to get a first-round pick back plus other pieces on defense they so obviously need. However, I think they will take Nolan Patrick with the No. 1 pick and I think that is the right thing to do.

The Devils need a top center and a new face for the franchise. Taylor Hall and Patrick could be the players the Devils can sell to their fans. What if they also go out and sign defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on July 1? Now you've got Patrick, Hall and Shattenkirk and now you've got something big brewing. Patrick, from everything I've heard and read, is not the same as Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel or Auston Matthews, but that doesn't mean he can't develop into a true No. 1 NHL center. He doesn't have to be the equivalent of McDavid, Eichel or Matthews to be legit. I'd argue that Nicklas Backstrom, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar aren't the equivalent to Crosby, McDavid or Evgeni Malkin but still are elite centers. The Devils need a center like that, and Patrick is their best shot of getting one. General managers always say it's incredibly difficult to sign an elite center, that you have to draft one. Here's New Jersey's chance.

 

Any hope for Devils fans? -- @BillMastro

See above, re. Patrick.

 

This is my third time asking you this over the course of the season, and I hope the answer has changed: How about Jake Guentzel? -- @sanityscross

I can't recall if I've answered you on this in the past. The more we see Guentzel play for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the more we learn about him. What we saw in November was a glimpse and not enough. What we saw in March was good but still not enough. What we're seeing now is further proof what we saw in November and in March wasn't a fluke. Guentzel is the real deal. I've had this conversation with a number of people and all seem to agree with me: I think Guentzel could thrive on any scoring line in the NHL because of his high hockey IQ and elite skills. He is not a product of playing with Sidney Crosby. Yes, playing with Crosby helps your production, but Guentzel hasn't produced solely because he has played with Crosby. I do think Conor Sheary's production was more of a product of playing with Crosby. Guentzel is maybe the last significant gift Ray Shero gave the Penguins. Their former GM picked him in the third round (No. 77) of the 2013 NHL Draft. That's a value pick right there.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm2: Guentzel strikes on odd-man rush

 

Has Kevin Shattenkirk made the Capitals better? Up to expectations? -- @usa_opie

This is a tough question to answer because up until he scored the overtime winner in Game 3 against the Penguins, I'd have to say no. Shattenkirk was not having a good postseason. I don't want to hear about what he did in the regular season. He wasn't acquired to play well in the regular season. The 19 regular-season games he played for Washington after the trade were a dress rehearsal for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now that he's here, on the whole, he hasn't been good enough. He is a minus-6 and he's playing on the third defense pair with Brooks Orpik. He's mainly facing bottom-six lines. He shouldn't be on the ice for a lot of goals against, but that is the case. He has in no way delivered up to expectations, but that doesn't mean the OT winner won't change the momentum for him. The Capitals have to hope it does. They need him.

 

Why are the St. Louis Blues better since Kevin Shattenkirk got traded? -- @AVGExotiK

Because Jake Allen has been arguably the best goalie in the NHL since Feb. 1. It also helps that the Blues had some depth on defense, but really it's because of Allen.

 

Status on the Penguins' goalie situation: If Marc-Andre Fleury carries them to the Final (and wins it), will he stay in Pittsburgh? -- @PrinceJantzen

Only if Fleury agrees to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed to the Vegas Golden Knights for the NHL Expansion Draft, and the Penguins made a trade with the Golden Knights to ensure they will not select him, and Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford doesn't try to trade him somewhere else. The fact is that Fleury's play in the playoffs should not affect his status in the offseason. The Penguins still have to do whatever they can to find a way to protect Matt Murray in the expansion draft. If left exposed, the Golden Knights will take him. You can bank on that. Why wouldn't they? He's young, good, relatively cheap considering prices for other No. 1 goalies, and he has won the Stanley Cup. Fleury may remain with the Penguins beyond this season, but it can't come at the expense of Murray. That would be a shortsighted decision that would hurt the Penguins in the long term. I say that with zero offense meant to Fleury, who understands how good Murray is and the predicament he is in with the Penguins.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm 3: Fleury shuts the door on Carlson

 

Any core members of the Chicago Blackhawks possibly get moved? -- @VincenzosHouse

That all depends on who you consider a core member of the Blackhawks.

The answer is no if you limit the core to their elite eight of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artemi Panarin, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford. Artem Anisimov could be in that mix, too, and he has a no-movement clause. It doesn't make it impossible to move him, but I'm not sure why GM Stan Bowman would do that. He's their No. 2 center and has obvious chemistry with Kane and Panarin.

If you go further down the depth chart to center Marcus Kruger, I think the answer is yes. Kruger has two years left on a contract that carries a $3.083 million NHL salary-cap charge. Panarin's cap charge is going up to $6 million from $812,500. The Blackhawks are going to need some space. Kruger is the easiest player for them to trade. They have to do it before the expansion draft, because I can see the Golden Knights selecting him. The Blackhawks may make some other trades, but I don't see anything huge coming from any of their really big players. But it sure would make for a fun and interesting story if it happened.

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