Rumor time: Columbus interested in swapping Mike Commodore for Sheldon Souray?

mikecommodore2.jpgWith the Columbus Blue Jackets dealing with a mild injury to defenseman Kris Russell (out 2-4 weeks with a knee sprain) it appears there are discussions being had in Columbus about acquiring a big-name defenseman to help the team out. While the Blue Jackets missed out on acquiring Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle and Kevin Bieksa from Vancouver, Aaron Portzline of the Puck-Rakers Blog says talks are being had in Columbus about taking a major headache off the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

The Dispatch has learned that there have been internal conversations within the Blue Jackets about trading for Souray, a three-time All-Star with record-setting power play ability and one of the most fear slap shots in the NHL.

The likely candidate to be traded by Columbus would be Mike Commodore, the club’s highest- paid defenseman.

To be clear, there is no deal on the table between the Blue Jackets and Oilers. If there have been talks between Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, they have not been extensive or specific, The Dispatch has been told.

This move is fascinating on a couple of levels. First off, Souray would solve a major issue in Columbus in that the Blue Jackets have no true power play threat on the blue line and Souray with his booming shot would be an instant boon to their offense.  Giving up Commodore in the deal is intriguing in that he’s been a very loyal soldier for the Jackets in his time there and by all accounts he’s a great guy to have in the locker room. Commodore, however, is a tough, grind-it-out kind of defenseman with some skill, something the Blue Jackets are also rather thin on.

The money between the two sides is negotiable. Commodore’s cap hit is for $3.75 million over the next three seasons and while Souray’s is over $5 million for the next two, the Blue Jackets aren’t hampered by the cap to be able to make the move. The only thing that could hamper the deal financially for the Blue Jackets is that the outlook for ticket sales this year isn’t very inspiring. If the Jackets are dealing with a tighter internal budget (they’re at $53 million in payroll this year) then the extra couple million it would cost to bring in Souray (his actual salary due is less than his cap hit) could be an issue.

If the deal were to be made, it solves one problem with Columbus by giving them an offensive weapon on the blue line while taking care of a huge problem for the Oilers in getting Souray out of Edmonton and bringing in a more welcome personality like Commodore. Whether or not this actually happens is another story entirely.

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    Shattenkirk on Blues trading him: ‘That’s out of my hands’

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the St. Louis Blues skates against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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    In a vacuum, it’s confounding to imagine the St. Louis Blues trading Kevin Shattenkirk.

    He’s a highly productive defenseman in the meat of his prime at 27, and his cap hit is a super-bargain at $4.25 million.

    Of course, as is the case with many of the NHL’s biggest steals, the Blues will eventually need to pay up. In Shattenkirk’s case, his bargain deal ends after the 2016-17 season.

    That’s a tough enough conundrum on its own, but consider the deals on the Blues’ cap that also expire after next season.

    Now, there are also some areas of relief; some will be happy to see the Blues part ways with Patrik Berglund‘s $3.7 million cap hit (unless he plays out of his mind, naturally).

    There are also some other things to consider.

    A) What if the salary cap rises more than one might expect for 2017-18?

    B) Would expansion help the Blues cut a little fat by losing a less-than-ideal contract?

    C) Who are the Blues bringing back from this off-season?

    Item C) dovetails with Shattenkirk. Will the Blues try to bring back David Backes and/or Troy Brouwer, possibly squeezing out Shattenirk?

    There have been rumors about Shattenkirk being shopped around in the past, yet the summer is a great time to make deals. Teams get salary cap leeway, owners may want reboots and new coaches could really value Shattenkirk’s in-demand skills.

    For what it’s worth, Shattenkirk would prefer to stay:

    There’s a strong chance that Blues GM Doug Armstrong may bide his time, whether he’s inclined to trade Shattenkirk during the season or re-sign him.

    Still, the talented defenseman’s situation shows that the Blues have big decisions to make even regarding situations that do not technically demand immediate choices.

    One thing seems certain: it won’t be any easy call.

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    So does Troy Brouwer

    It sounds like Troy Brouwer would love to return to the Blues

    DALLAS, TX - MAY 07:  Troy Brouwer #36 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with Robby Fabbri #15 of the St. Louis Blues after scoring a goal against Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars in the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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    How much is Troy Brouwer‘s magical postseason run worth to the St. Louis Blues or some other team in free agency? How important is comfort and familiarity to Troy Brouwer?

    Those seem to be the most important bigger-picture questions, although from the sound of Brouwer’s comments, nuts-and-bolts issues may decide his future in or outside of St. Louis.

    Brouwer raved about his time with the Blues as the team spoke with the media to close out the 2015-16 season. The power forward seemed very happy about his living conditions and the way his style fits with this blue collar team.

    Even so, Brouwer also admits that “it’s a business.”

    That’s typical talk, yet it was more interesting when he went a little deeper, acknowledging that he understands that GM Doug Armstrong must ask questions about more than just the 2016-17 season.

    His playoff production was fantastic, but a smart GM will realize that it probably wasn’t sustainable. Case in point, facts like these:

    Even so, Brouwer brings considerable value if you keep expectations in check.

    While he fell a little bit short this season with 18, he generally falls in the 20-goal range each year. He’s one of those players who can bring some grit to the table without totally taking away from your team in other ways.

    Brouwer was one of the Blues’ top penalty-killing forwards to boot.

    It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising for Brouwer to enjoy a healthy raise from his expired $3.67 million cap hit, yet you must wonder how much. Maybe most importantly, what kind of term is he looking for?

    That last question might just be pivotal regarding a possible return to the Blues. Would he sacrifice some stability to try to make another run with St. Louis?

    Even if he isn’t that old at 30, his rugged style might mean that this is one of his last opportunities for a big payday.

    Both sides face a tough call, yet it sounds like a reunion is at least plausible.

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    Trio of Pens forwards take maintenance day on Saturday

    TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoots the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins are about as healthy as you can be at this stage of the game. Outside of Trevor Daley (ankle), who’s done for the playoffs, the Pens have their desired roster at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that certain veterans don’t need a little bit of time to recuperate from the grind of the first three rounds.

    On Saturday, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Chris Kunitz didn’t participate in practice. Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that each player had taken a maintenance day.

    The 36-year-old Kunitz and 39-year-old Cullen have surely picked up some bumps and bruises throughout the postseason, while Bonino might still feel the effects of a shot block from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

    Not to worry Penguins fans, Sullivan says that each player should be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

    Related:

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    Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

    ‘No question,’ David Backes wants to stay in St. Louis

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    We don’t always get what we want…but we try.

    In David Backes‘ case, he’d like to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues going forward. It might be difficult to make the numbers work, but the two sides will give it a go.

    Backes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games in 2015-16. The 32-year-old added seven goals and 14 points in 20 postseason games before the Blues were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

    Re-signing their captain will likely interest the Blues, but can they make it work under the salary cap? St. Louis also has to re-sign RFA Jaden Schwartz and fellow UFA Troy Brouwer this off-season.

    The Blues might have to pick between keeping Brouwer or Backes and that might not work in Backes’ favor. Brouwer is younger, and the fact that St. Louis gave up T.J. Oshie for him just last year could also play a factor in their decision.

    Even if St. Louis doesn’t bring back role players like Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, they still need to have other players fill those spots on their third and fourth lines, which will eat into their limited cap space.

    If they want to make room for Backes and/or Brouwer, the Blues may have to part ways with a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk (one year left at $4.25 million).

    It looks like the Blues might be looking for a new captain in 2016-17.