NHL Rumor Mill – April 17, 2021
In today’s NHL rumor mill: the Jack Eichel trade speculation resurfaces, questions about Sam Reinhart’s future in Buffalo, and wondering whether the Predators will expose Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen in this summer’s expansion draft.
LATEST EICHEL AND REINHART SPECULATION
WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators”, TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger speculated Jack Eichel might not be playing with the Buffalo Sabres next season. He’s heard the Los Angeles Kings have an interest in Eichel and thinks the 24-year-old could be a good fit there. However, he also believes the Sabres will hang onto their captain if they don’t get the return they want.
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently noted Sam Reinhart’s stock was high before the trade deadline. He claimed there’s interest in the 25-year-old Sabres winger. Reinhart is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer coming off a one-year, $5.2 million contract and is also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.
Vogl envisioned several possible scenarios for Reinhart, such as the Sabres trading him during the 2021 NHL Draft, re-signing him for a year to see if the club improves and shopping him as a rental next season if they don’t, or signing him to a long-term contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is going to be a decisive summer for the Sabres, one that finally puts them on the right track toward building a playoff contender or keeps them mired in an already decade-long streak of mediocrity. It’ll come down to whatever decisions general manager Kevyn Adams makes with Eichel and Reinhart.
Eichel lacks no-trade protection this summer, giving Adams the flexibility to trade him to any NHL club. He’s also under contract for the next five seasons with a whopping $10 million annual average salary.
A lot of teams will be interested in Eichel but few can afford the cost in dollars and tradeable assets (first-round draft picks, top prospects, promising young players) to pry him away from the Sabres. The Kings could be one of those few if GM Rob Blake hopes to accelerate his club’s rebuilding program.
Reinhart would be a much more affordable asset if Adams puts him on the trade block but the Sabres GM could seek at least a first-round pick and a top prospect or promising young player in return. An acquiring club must also negotiate a new contract for him if the Sabres haven’t re-signed him first.
WILL PREDATORS LEAVE DUCHENE AND JOHANSEN UNPROTECTED?
THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan and Ryan S. Clark recently wondered if the Nashville Predators might leave forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen unprotected in this summer’s expansion draft. Both carry $8 million annual salary-cap hits but struggled to live up to contract expectations. The Seattle Kraken would need to be incentivized to take one of them. Others clubs will also attempt to expose high-salaries players in the hope the Kraken will take them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vingan and Clark point out Kraken GM Ron Francis will have leverage in this situation. They suggest the Predators would have to add a sweetener like a draft pick and/or a prospect and possibly some salary retention to make Duchene or Johansen palatable to the Predators.