The day so far has belonged to Jimmy Vesey, as we wait for his final decision on where to start his NHL career. The Blackhawks and Rangers are said to be the front-runners, and some reporters are getting a little anxious about the timing. It’s unlikely that, despite tons of tweets today, anyone leaving their phone or computer will hurry Vesey’s signing. With that in mind, take some time to find out what’s being talked about in the Central Division, besides Chicago’s free agent pursuit.
- James O’Brien at ProHockeyTalk writes about Kevin Shattenkirk today. O’Brien believes that trading Shattenkirk would be a mistake for the Blues, and that the team would be better off trying to re-sign him. His analytically based argument suggests that Shattenkirk should really be one of the untouchables on the Blues, and certainly prioritized over the older Alex Steen. The article is interesting, though may ignore what we don’t know for sure. This assumes Shattenkirk is willing to re-sign in St. Louis, and there have been reports to the contrary.
- Scott Powers over at The Athletic has a rundown of the Chicago Blackhawks defensive depth. You can never have too many defensemen, and Chicago’s group is certainly impressive. Earlier, he discussed the players who are more certain to get regular playing time. A team will always feel comfortable being led by Duncan Keith, and they’ve done well enough with their current group to win three Stanley Cups this decade. Adding Brian Campbell to go along with their NHL and minor league defensive depth should go a long way.
- Mike Heika has a profile of Stars forward Jason Spezza, and expects big things from him this year. Spezza may be getting older, but many don’t appreciate just how great he’s been. He’s currently ninth among active players in points per game. He’s also older than several of the players immediately ahead of him, giving him more decline years to weigh down his averages. Heika notes that Spezza’s game being based on hockey IQ may extend his usefulness. Players do decline, and Spezza has to some extent, but he’s a future Hall of Famer, and they don’t fall off the map as fast as other players.