Rangers’ Raanta Question, Odds of JT Return & Devils’ Kovy Conundrum

Pre-Draft Frenzy questions are getting more intense — and demanding — by the day. As a result, The Maven will answer a few. Then, I’ll get into other pressing matters.

1. Will the Rangers be able to retain much-admired Antti Raanta? Answer: The Maven predicts that GM Jeff Gorton will find a way, and that route will involve a trade. (The Derek Stepan Marching and Chowder Society says it should not be its man.)

2. What are the chances of John Tavares remaining with the Islanders? The Maven believes that the loyal Captain will factor loyalty into his ultimate decision and will sign a long-term pact. If that happens, we can call him Mister Islander.

John Tavares (AP Images)

3. Who will Devils GM Ray Shero select with his No. 1 Draft pick? Maven theorizes that Hero Shero might just sidestep either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier in order to trade for a recognized scoring forward. Then again, “theories” are like smoke rings, fading in the air.

4. What’s doing with the Sabres‘ coach selection process? Maven figures that with Entry Draft Day getting closer, new GM Jason Botterill soon will want his new bench boss in place. Phil Housley remains my pick with Rick Tocchet in the second spot.

5. What should Devils fans know about an Ilya Kovalchuk NHL comeback? Maven says, Read Shero’s lips, or check his recent quotes.

Ilya Kovalchuk (Getty Images)

6. A smart cookie, Shero puts it this way re Kovy: “I can’t go out calling teams because that’s a waste of my time. He’s going to tell us where he wants to play. In the end, if that does work out and it’s not the Devils, then I’ve got to see if that makes sense for us to do that (trade him to a team that shows interest.”)

7. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Rangers or Islanders being “a team that shows interest.” Up in Toronto, some media types believe that Lou Lamoriello might phone his former colleague, Shero.

Lou Lamoriello (AP Images)

8. Writing in the Toronto Star, Kevin McGran figures, “Leafs could afford him (Kovy) — then turn around and deal James van Riemsdyk” in a trade for a defenseman.

9. Then again, there’s a St. Louis connection since Blues Assistant GM Martin Brodeur is buddies with Kovy from their Devils nights at teammates.

10. If Shero would rather deal with a club on the Left Coast, Kovalchuk might well be lured by one of his all-time favorite coaches, Peter DeBoer in San Jose.

11. Writing in the New York Post, Larry Brooks hypothesizes that Oscar Lindberg might tempt the Devils’ high command in the potential Kovy Sweepstakes.

Oscar Lindberg (AP Images)

12. If Shero opts for Nico Hischier, the media will love this Swiss whiz. Nico speaks four languages since his native Switzerland borders on Germany, France and Italy. The Hockey News projects him to be his country’s best player ever.

13. I get the impression that while linguist Hischier fascinates me, Shero has the perfect squelch: “At the end of the day, you’re drafting a hockey player.”

14. Meanwhile, the Devils — using Dr. Aimee Kimball, a sports psychologist — have interviewed more than 60 players in advance of the Draft.

15. It’s called “preventive maintenance,” which is another way of saying the Devils want to avoid the same disaster that befell Ottawa when in 1993 the Senators plucked Alexandre Daigle first overall. To put it gently, Monsieur Daigle turned out to be a bust to end all busts.

16. Daigle had no idea how to spell defense. By contrast, defensive play happens to be Hischier’s forte.

17. On the other hand, Patrick is regarded as superior in two categories — physicality and NHL readiness.

Nolan Patrick (Getty Images)

18. Darryl Sutter always believed it was a mistake to trade star players for draft choices. To support his theory he offered this — call it amusing, if you will — pithy commentary: “Draft picks have a way of ending up as bartenders!”

19. Missing the playoffs, Sutter ended up being an ex-coach!