They have the cap space, and they have the need.
The day before July 1, the New Jersey Devils might be the favorites to sign defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
When the market officially opens tomorrow, Shattenkirk, 28, will be the consensus best player available. All year long, most observers expected the New Rochelle, New York, native to sign with the Rangers.
But the Blueshirts may have other plans. Clearly, GM Jeff Gorton wants to get younger. He acquired 21-year-old Anthony DeAngelo in the Derek Stepan trade with Arizona, and DeAngelo’s game is a lot like Shattenkirk’s — albeit far less proven at the NHL level.
The Buffalo Sabres were another team linked to Shattenkirk. But the Sabres today got Marco Scandella from Minnesota. And besides, they’ve already got a right-shooting, power-play quarterback in Rasmus Ristolainen.
Which brings us back to New Jersey. The Devils had all sorts of trouble scoring goals last season, and that’s something Shattenkirk could help. By himself, Shattenkirk had eight power-play goals in 2016-17. Meanwhile, the Devils’ d-men combined for just two — one by Andy Greene, the other by John Moore.
The Devils also have plenty of room under the cap. They bought out Mike Cammalleri today, adding even more. They’ll need to spend money somewhere.
Where Shattenkirk ends up, we’ll have to wait and see for sure. The Tampa Bay Lightning could make a play for him. And the Bolts, unlike the Devils, could offer a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup in the next year or two.
Just don’t be surprised if he picks New Jersey.
If it matters, Newark to New Rochelle is a one-hour drive.