Author: Mike Halford

Kevin Shattenkirk

Shattenkirk’s agent downplays trade rumors


After another first-round playoff exit, many expected some sort of roster shake-up in St. Louis — and over the last week or so, rumors have swirled about a potential Kevin Shattenkirk trade.

On Wednesday, the Post-Dispatch tried to gauge the legitimacy of said rumors…

Now, the Blues have put Shattenkirk in the mix, at least gauging interest in what the All-Star could bring, according to league sources and media reports that have cited Edmonton, Columbus and Philadelphia as possible partners.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong did not immediately return a message late Wednesday. Jordan Neumann, Shattenkirk’s agent, told the Post-Dispatch that he believed the reports are “not true.”

It’s easy to see why Shattenkirk would be in demand. At 26, he’s emerged as one of the NHL’s top young offensive defensemen — 44 points in just 56 games (abdomen injury) last year — and, in January, earned his first All-Star nod. He also carries a very reasonable $4.25M cap hit and is under contract through 2017.

Which begs the question — why would St. Louis move him?

Well, the Blues have Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester locked into sizable deals through 2019. That means the club might not have the money available to extend Shattenkirk, given he’d be in line for a sizable raise. What’s more, GM Doug Armstrong has some intriguing young d-man prospects in the pipeline — Joel Edmundson, Jordan Schmaltz, Petteri Lindbohm and Tommy Vanelli — that could push for a NHL gig by ’17.

And there is, of course, the shake-up theory. Moving Shattenkirk would be a bold move that reverberates throughout the room, something the club might consider given its recent playoff failures.

Preds re-sign Bourque: one year, $866,250


RFA forward Gabriel Bourque accepted his qualifying offer from Nashville on Thursday, locking him into a one-year deal that pays $866,250.

Bourque, 24, has been a regular lineup fixture in Nashville over the last two seasons. After scoring 11 goals in just 34 games during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, he set career highs in ’13-14 in assists (17) and points (26).

Last year, though, was a bit of a step back. Bourque only played in 69 games and his TOI dropped to 12:01 per night. He also finished with just three goals and a minus-13 rating.

It’ll be interesting to see where Bourque fits next season. Forwards Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Mike Santorelli and Rich Clune are all either gone or likely to go elsewhere, but the club did add Cody Hodgson and Steve Moses.

Shots fired! ‘Canes owner Karmanos rips into Jim Rutherford (Updated)

Hurricanes Front Office Shakeup Hockey

Well, this is interesting.

Speaking with Raleigh-area media on Wednesday, Carolina owner and recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Peter Karmanos took several shots at Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford — the same Jim Rutherford that worked under Karmanos for 20 years as ‘Canes GM.

Per the Post-Gazette, the shots fired included:

• A stinging criticism of Rutherford’s cap and budget management, by way of heaping praise on Rutherford’s replacement, current Carolina GM Ron Francis.

“Ron is far more inclusive, so he’s asking a lot of questions and I give him my opinion. … He’s far more astute on the financial end of the game. Jim liked to talk about the fact that we’re a ‘budget team.’ I’m not sure what that ever meant. Every team has a budget. That means we had a budget until Jim needed a player, then I’d say, ‘OK,’ and we had a different budget.

“Ronnie is a no-nonsense guy when it comes to those kinds of contracts. He’s not worried that he might get criticized if his team doesn’t do as well as people think it should. So he doesn’t panic when it comes to signing players or worrying about that type of thing.”

More: Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’

• A reference to what shape Rutherford might have the Penguins in by the time their rumored sale is complete.

“Pittsburgh has no first-round picks anymore. They traded their first-round pick from the year before. They traded their first-round pick for this year, and now they’ve traded their first-round pick for next year.

“The guy’s trying to sell the team. … I think they’ll sell that team for between $700 and $800 million in Pittsburgh, and the cupboard will be pretty bare by that time.”

Karmanos, 72, also drew parallels between Rutherford’s ill-fated Alex Semin signing in Carolina — Francis bought out the remainder of Semin’s contract yesterday — and Wednesday’s big Phil Kessel trade, suggesting that Kessel may score as many goals (six) for the Pens as Semin did for the ‘Canes last season.

At this time, it’s probably worth noting that, in September of 2013, Karmanos fired his son, Jason, as Rutherford’s assistant GM in Carolina. Jason later landed as the VP of hockey operations in — you guessed it! — Pittsburgh, where he reconnected with Rutherford.

Updated: Rutherford and the Penguins organization have responded, sorta.

Related: Citing age, Karmanos sells OHL team — so when will he sell ‘Canes?