NHL Rumor Mill – March 1, 2021
Could the Bruins acquire Jack Eichel? Is there interest in Canadiens goalie Carey Price? Could the Kings pursue Ryan Graves? What’s the latest on the Ducks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa suggests the Boston Bruins should look into acquiring Jack Eichel should the Buffalo Sabres center become available in the trade market. They can only count on aging centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for only so long.
Eichel’s no-trade protection doesn’t kick in until 2022-23, giving the Sabres a wide selection of possible trade partners before then. The Bruins could fit his $10 million annual average value within their salary cap payroll if they don’t re-sign Krejci and fellow UFA Tuukka Rask this summer.
The Sabres’ asking price, however, will be expensive, with a source suggesting it could cost the Bruins at least Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic. Multiple bidders with a deeper pool of promising players and prospects could drive that price even higher.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel would be a great fit between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. I don’t doubt the Bruins would inquire if the Sabres put him on the trade block but they lack sufficient available young players to outbid other clubs. They certainly won’t part with McAvoy. They’ll also re-sign Rask because they lack a viable replacement. They’d still have sufficient cap space to acquire Eichel after signing Rask but it would leave very little room to flesh out the rest of the roster for next season.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy cites an NHL source telling him Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would still like to add a top-four left side defenseman. The source suggests Sweeney will keep tabs on blueliners like St. Louis’ Vince Dunn or Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm but wonders if ownership might limit how much money he can add to the payroll.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn would be more affordable than Ekholm if Sweeney is interested in either guy. The Blues defenseman is on a one-year, $1.85 million contract while the Predator rearguard is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $3.75 million.
TEAMS INTERESTED IN PRICE?
Murphy cited numerous NHL sources claiming several teams contacted the Montreal Canadiens last October about Carey Price’s availability. The Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche were believed among the interested clubs.
The Canadiens are standing by Price, who played well in last year’s postseason but is struggling this season. Murphy wondered if there would still be a market for the veteran netminder if the Habs decided a change of scenery might be best for all concerned.
One source told Murphy he feels Price still has value and could turn things around but his contract would be a sticking point. The best-case scenario would be trading Price in the offseason if he regains his form and plays well the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price has five years remaining on his contract. He also has a full no-movement clause so he controls his situation. If (and that’s a big IF) he agreed to be traded the Canadiens will have to pick up at least 20 percent (probably more) of his $10.5 million annual average value or take back a toxic contract in return to make the deal palatable to the acquiring club.
KINGS EYEING GRAVES?
Murphy noted TSN’s Darren Dreger last week reporting the Los Angeles Kings sought a young, dynamic left-shot defenseman. A source confirmed they looked into Vince Dunn and suggested Ryan Graves of the Colorado Avalanche could be a viable trade target. There’s a good chance the Avs could lose Graves to the Seattle Kraken in this summer’s expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Graves could be a good fit with the Kings but I don’t think the Avs are in any hurry to move him this season. As Murphy’s source suggested, that could be a deal that takes place in the offseason before the expansion draft.
UPDATE ON THE DUCKS
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens cites a high-ranking NHL executive saying there would be interest in Anaheim Ducks veterans such as Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Cam Fowler and even Ryan Getzlaf. However, the Ducks would have to retain some of their salaries if they hoped to move them.
Stephens believes that would mean the Ducks absorb 50 percent of Henrique’s $5.8 million AAV over the remaining three years of his contract. Getzlaf is a UFA this summer but carries a full no-movement clause and few teams can afford his $8.25 million cap hit.
Players that would be easier to move based on age, contract lengths and past performance include Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. Josh Manson’s been mentioned in trade rumors but he’s been hurt this season and struggled during the last two years.
Stephens said Ducks GM Bob Murray is open to making a deal, pointing to recent reports suggesting shipping forward Danton Heinen to the Vancouver Canucks for Jake Virtanen. The sticking point is Virtanen will make $3.4 million in actual salary next season. As of Saturday night, that deal appeared dead or dormant.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks simply have too many expensive veterans on contracts far too long for teams to absorb under a flattened salary cap. If they don’t pick up part of those salary-cap hits they won’t be able to move them unless they take back toxic contracts as part of the return.
Rakell’s AAV is $3.789 million through 2021-22 while Lindholm’s is $5.205 million over the same period. If Getzlaf is willing to move the Ducks will have to pick up part of his cap hit but could be willing to do so since it’s just for the remainder of this season.