Ryan McDonagh – Kevin Shattenkirk
Brendan Smith – Brady Skjei
Marc Staal – Steven Kampfer
While this may be a little hopeful, I fully believe general manager Jeff Gorton can piece together a more than serviceable defense corps like this. Putting together something like this will take a little bit of finagling, however.
As I stated in our previous roundtable, I believe Gorton will bribe Vegas to pick Dan Girardi in the expansion draft. His cap hit will be replaced by, plus some, by Shattenkirk’s. Shattenkirk has stated his interest in playing for the Rangers, and he proves to be a much better option for the top pairing than anything in house.
Brendan Smith is the only other unsigned defenseman in that group, and he too could command a hefty cap charge. So to work on keeping him, I see Gorton moving either Nick Holden or Kevin Klein as well as a forward.
After this past season’s disastrous finish, I’m hoping Gorton works on the defense to be as close to this as possible. Considering that, coach Alain Vigneault needs to learn from his mistakes, and that’s where I’m not holding my breath.