cam fowler

Hot off the presses last night, Arthur Staple noted that both Chris Drury and Gordie Clark were in attendance at the Islanders/Ducks game last night. They certainly weren’t scouting the Islanders, and the Rangers and Ducks have been linked together as a possible match for some time. The Rangers need an upgrade on defense and have the cap space, while the Ducks need to dump a defenseman and some cap space.

Usually I write off scouts attending games, but Drury is the Assistant GM and Clark is the Director of Player Personnel. This isn’t just a scout doing his/her job. These are the big whigs who make decisions in attendance. It seems like something is brewing. But who they are targeting is where things get interesting.

The Ducks need some young forward depth, something the Rangers have in droves. But when it comes to defensemen that played last night, the young defensemen weren’t showcased. Aside from Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen, it was Josh Manson, Kevin Bieksa, Clayton Stoner, and Jacob Larsson.

The Ducks need to clear cap space, so Manson and Larsson don’t make logical sense in that regard. Manson could be a target if they are looking at a minor deal involving Dylan McIlrath. Larsson is a rookie on his entry-level deal, so trading him doesn’t clear cap space. Bieksa and Stoner are both hard passes, as well.

That leaves Fowler and Vatanen. Fowler has been in the rumor mill forever, but nothing has materialized as the Ducks still wait to clear space to get Hampus Lindholm under contract. Fowler (24) carries a $4 million contract for this year and next. Vatanen (25) comes with a $4.875 million cap hit for four more years. And make no mistake, Vatanen is the better player.

The emergence of Brandon Pirri as a viable depth option has made trading players like J.T. Miller or Kevin Hayes somewhat palatable. It would be interesting to see something along the lines of one of those kids for Vatanen as a framework, as it would certainly help both clubs address immediate needs. It opens another $2+ million for Anaheim to try to get Lindholm signed. The Rangers would likely need to trade McIlrath and not take salary back for this to work on their end.

This is all speculation, of course, and I’m just spitballing what could work. The one thing that has me nervous is the potential that the Rangers are targeting Fowler. Fowler is not what this team needs, and the club can get something better with their crop of young guns.

But here’s the kicker: Why would the Rangers send two top guys to scout Vatanen and Fowler, who have been in the league and are well known entities? Logically speaking, they were scouting someone they haven’t seen before. The only person, forward or defense, that they haven’t seen is Jacob Larsson, the 27th pick in the 2015 draft. Just some food for thought there.


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