Draft day trades, intriguing free agency storylines, and more
1. The Cal Clutterbuck/Nino Niederreiter swap was an interesting one. It gives the Islanders arguably the two top hitting forwards in hockey (the alliteration line – Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck – perhaps?), and it gives the Wild a talented young winger who really rebounded well in the AHL this past season.
Niederreiter is a lock to make the Wild, but I'm not sure where. He was pencilled in by some Isles fans to play with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. However, his production did fall off a bit in 2012-13 down the stretch – only 14 points in Bridgeport's final 37 games. He was mad that the Islanders didn't even invite him to training camp. A fresh start will be great for him.
2. I wonder if Dallas knew they would be getting Valeri Nichushkin when they went out and traded for Sergei Gonchar? Gonchar is one of the most respected Russians in the hockey world, and he deserves a lot of credit for helping Geno Malkin get adjusted to the North American game and lifestyle. Expect him to have a similar impact on Nichushkin.
3. I'm not really sure why Hunter Shinkaruk slipped to pick 24. A lack of size, perhaps? He is 5-11 and 175 pounds – it isn't like he's really all that small. Shinkaruk is a guy who I am very familiar with (at least relative to the other 2013 top prospects). His game is equal parts Patrick Kane and Zach Parise. I'm not saying he is going to be better than either of them (nor am I saying he will be as good as either of them).
He skates and handles the puck in traffic like Kane, and he competes like Parise. The Canucks got a really good one. He'll likely spend one more year in the WHL before playing for Vancouver.
4. Can't thin