If you thought the National Hockey League would go quietly into the Las Vegas desert after the award show you’re sadly mistaken. Some of the 4th Line writers got together and looked at some pending unrestricted free agents and what may be the best/most logical fit for them when free agency opens on July 1st. Without further ado…
Joe Thornton – Joe
A 37 year old veteran may not seem like a hot commodity but when it comes to “Jumbo” Joe Thornton there will be a feeding frenzy. The smart move here would be for teams to try and sign him to a one year deal (considering his age) but this 20 year NHL veteran has shown his ability to consistently lace up his skates and play. Last season he put up 50 points and won 50.8% of draws in the dot, the lowest winning percentage of his career. With face-offs being a key driver of possession his consistency, these can’t be overlooked. There is talk of the Los Angeles Kings having interest (does he really want to stick it to his former team?), the Sharks want to bring him back for less money, but there is one team that he hasn’t been linked with that this writer thinks he would be a great fit for: the Carolina Hurricanes.
Is Carolina a free agent hot bed? No, emphatically no, but they have a solid defensive core and Bill Peters has done a great job of really working with what he has. However, their downfall has been scoring goals. With the less physical style of the east Thornton would easily surpass his point total from last year with wingers like Jeff Skinner, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen. He would bring much needed leadership into the room. Joe would also allow younger centers to slide up and down the line up as needed and take key defensive draws.
Kevin Shattenkirk – Kyle
Kevin Shattenkirk is a general manger’s dream. A under 30 puck moving defense men is hard to come by and Shattenkirk is exactly that. It won’t come cheap though, He will be looking for a long term deal in the range of 7 years at 44 million. Shattenkirk under performed during the Capitals playoff run after being traded from the Blues at the deadline, but we all know he’s an excellent power-play quarterback and will move the puck with ease out of the defensive zone. Its been made obvious that he has ties to New York and calls himself a “New Yorker at heart”. But we also know Steve Yzerman GM of the Tampa Bay Lightining is going to be working hard to land the blue liner as he was trying to trade for him last deadline.
The one team that has a real shot at locking up the this super star is the New Jersey Devils. Yes, the Devils are in a rebuild, but what better way to get that going then to sign one of the best offensively gifted defensemen in the game. The Devils can without a doubt afford Shattenkirk and this move will prove to the fans that the team is serious about the future (plus hopefully sell more tickets). Shattenkirk immediately becomes the Devil’s number one blue liner and ultimately sends everyone down a notch in the order which would help drastically.
The writers at the 4th line have weighed in on where they think some of this years top free agents are going to go, now you can tweet @4thlinepodcast and let us know where you think free agents are going to end up, or who you would like to see your favorite team sign.