NHL Rumor Mill – May 11, 2021

by | May 11, 2021 | Rumors | 28 comments

Jack Eichel’s remarks during his end-of-season conference call sparked speculation over his future with the Buffalo Sabres. Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl believes Buffalo Sabres stars Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart are ready to play elsewhere following their remarks during their end-of-season conference calls with the media on Monday.

Jack Eichel’s days with the Buffalo Sabres could be numbered (NHL Images).

Eichel is unhappy over the way the Sabres are handling his treatment for a season-ending herniated disk in his neck. He once again expressed his weariness over the club’s inability to become a playoff contender. “I have a lot of thinking to do in this offseason,” said Eichel. “There’s a lot that I have to consider.”

Reinhart is also tired of six years of constant losing and another last-place finish. “No one wants to go through a rebuild, especially going into next year turning 26 at the start of it,” he said.

Vogl points out Eichel has five seasons left on his contract while the Sabres control Reinhart’s rights for one more season. If they aren’t willing to buy into a rebuild, why would anyone else on the roster?

Eichel could generate a good haul for the Sabres, perhaps a player, draft picks and prospects. Reinhart’s stock is high and he could at least fetch a comparable player with more term on his contract.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes Eichel’s comments yesterday indicate his relationship with the Sabres front office is broken beyond repair. He also noted the apparent unwillingness of Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to face another rebuild at this stage in their respective careers. “I can’t go for another rebuild,” said Ristolainen, adding he’d be fine with general manager Kevyn Adams trading him this summer.

Eichel’s been with the Sabres for six seasons, Reinhart for seven and Ristolainen eight. They’ve yet to skate in a Stanley Cup playoff game.

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox also believes Eichel wants out of Buffalo even if the Sabres captain didn’t come right out and say it. As proof, he pointed to the 24-year-old center’s four words (“Wherever that may be”) when talking about where he’ll be playing hockey next season.

Fox speculates the New York Rangers could come calling. They previously explored acquiring Eichel, are rich in prospects and have an owner eager to accelerate his club’s rebuild.

The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets have glaring holes at center and the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual average value. The Los Angeles Kings could attempt to fast-track their rebuild while Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty remain difference-makers.

While other centers, such as Calgary’s Sean Monahan and Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, could be shopped this summer, none have the talent and potential of Eichel.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks is skeptical the Rangers will pursue Eichel. He doesn’t feel the Sabres captain checks the boxes of veteran leadership, a successful team resume or the ability to play a physical game. If the Rangers re-sign Mika Zibanejad, Brooks believes it could cost them $8 million annually. That would take up significant cap space if they already have a $10 million center in Eichel on the books.

THE ATHLETIC: Lisa Dillman examined the pros and cons of the Kings potentially acquiring Eichel. The pros include his established place among the league’s top centers and the excitement he could generate among Kings’ fans. The cons include concern over his neck injury and the expensive return which would have to include promising Quinton Byfield.

Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins could have sufficient salary-cap space to acquire Eichel if they don’t re-sign David Krejci and Tuukka Rask. However, the Sabres asking price could be too expensive, with one league source suggesting a return of at least Charlie McAvoy or David Pastrnak and someone like Trent Frederic in a package deal. McAvoy and Pastrnak are two players the Bruins aren’t giving up.

Shinzawa noted the trade deadline deal that sent Taylor Hall from Buffalo to Boston. However, he feels Sabres GM Adams will draw better offers for Eichel than what he got for Hall. With Eichel lacking no-movement protection until the end of next season, Adams can entertain multiple offers. The Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles and New Jersey Devils could be among the bidders.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch believes there’s no need for the Senators to pursue Eichel. They have the assets and ability to make that trade. However, he feels it doesn’t make sense for them right now because they’ve built their roster from the ground up. Rookie Josh Norris played well as their first-line center while promising Shane Pinto could fit into the second-line role.

The Sabres’ asking price could be a center, a first-round pick in 2021 and at least a couple of prospects. There aren’t many teams that can make that kind of swap. Garrioch included the Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Bruins and Kings among them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel, Reinhart and Ristolainen could be on their way out this summer. They’ve endured a lot during their time with the Sabres with no sign the club is any closer to becoming a playoff contender. Trading them for pieces to put toward a rebuild is the best option.

Trading Reinhart and Ristolainen, however, could prove easier to do than moving Eichel. They would be much more affordable for other clubs to acquire.

I’m not suggesting Eichel can’t or won’t be traded. However, his $10 million AAV over the next five years plus the Sabres’ asking price will limit the number of serious bidders for his services.

The Sabres won’t “win” an Eichel trade in the short term. They could even lose it long term if the draft picks and prospects they receive fail to pan out as hoped. Nevertheless, they will set a high price aimed at long-term improvement.

Unlike the Hall trade where they had to accept a lesser offer, they aren’t dealing with a struggling veteran using his no-movement clause to determine his trade destinations. Eichel’s in his playing prime whose lack of no-trade protection this summer gives the Sabres a wider number of possible trade partners. That improves their chances of receiving a very good return.

As for where Eichel could go, the Rangers and Kings seem best suited in terms of cap space, draft picks and prospects to make the most competitive bids assuming they’ll pursue a Eichel deal. Whether they want to remains to be seen.

The Red Wings and Senators could get into the bidding but I think those clubs will continue to remain patient with their respective rebuilds. The Blue Jackets have the cap room but they could lack sufficient prospects to outbid other clubs.

The Devils would have to part with Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes to make it work. The Wild could use a proven first-line center but their improvement this season doesn’t put as much pressure on them to make that deal. The Canucks already have two high-quality centers in Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat. They’d also have to offload a lot of salary to free up the necessary cap space for Eichel.


  1. The rebuild in Buffalo isn’t with the players, it’s with management/executives.

    Sabres need to hire Davidson and Gorton, name Granato as the coach and capitalize on the 10 draft picks they have.

    They have cap room to make things happen and be the team they should be with proper management.

    Grabbing an available Halak would be a good start.

    • The more I think about it, the more I wonder what Gorton actually did for NY?

      Everyone always praises the GM for drafting, But that comes with a lot of help from your scouting department.

      Laffrienere and Kakko were no brainers.

      The Fox trade was a great trade. But he was moved twice and pretty much had his heart set on NY.

      I think Sather actually did a better overall job than Gorton.
      Gorton is praised well beyond his ability imo.

      Again the Girardi buy out, shatterkirk signing / buyout, the Deangelo fiasco. All on Gortons watch.

      • I agree, im not so sure about Gorton either. Sure some good trades but some bad as well. Davidsson on the other hand I would hire

      • I’ll give Gorton some luv.
        His 1 off season as the B’s interim GM was outstanding and played a big role in the B’s success to this day.
        He then soaked the B’s on Nash. Lindgren would look good if he was still in Boston.
        Ate Chirrelli’s lunch on Strome and Spooner.

        His later picks in recent drafts and the quantity he acquired will pay dividends in the near future IMO.

        Matthew Robertson will be a big, fast skilled top 4 D man for the Rangers in a couple years. A steal at #48, all the physical tools are there.

        IMO he will be talked about like Francis is in Carolina.

        He did the heavy lifting, someone else will reap the benefits.

      • Nyr need muscle not jack

      • So….

        Nyr need… to get jacked?

    • Your right there Habfan. If they brought in guys like you mentioned they could try one more year, plus I’m sure the cap will rise due to 2x the HR steam from the new TV deals.

      If they were to trade him, I can see him as a NYR. Big market, big American player, more of a spotlight which I think great hockey players need more of like they get in other major sports.

      Personally, he’d be a great addition to the Kings if they can add him without using Quinton.

      I think both Montreal and Ottawa don’t need him just yet as one team is too early in it’s build and the other will create new holes in an already thin lineup. He could fit in Boston but I’m sure a lot of us rather he not.

    • Agreed 100%. Since you can’t change ownership (although the fish stinks from the head down in a case like this) then a managerial commitment is the least they could do.
      The players and fans don’t have faith in ownership; management including scouts and medical staff. If ever there was an operation in need of an infusion of leadership; mentorship; direction and credibility this is it.
      JD and Gorton turned the Rangers around in 3 yrs. setting them up for success for years. THAT is what the Sabres need and what their fans deserve.

  2. Eichel will be a bruin

  3. Be nice to see Eichel on a contending team. He might find he has run out of excuses.

    • Eichel had a herniated disc in his neck and is playing professional hockey – not chess.

      I’ve watched the play where he supposedly sustained (or, at the very least, aggravated) his injury, and it was pretty much just a bump

      Think about that in terms of risk potential over the next 12 years or so.

      I think expectations of what he’ll garner in a trade should be tempered somewhat.

      If I were a GM I would be thinking twice, and then again.


      • Yes, Rich, that is very clear. I recall you are a doctor, though perhaps not a specialist in this area. Do you have knowledge about the success rate for such an injury?

        I am not trying to bait you, I’m just curious. I’d like the Habs to make a play for Eichel if the risk is worth it. A healthy Eichel would be a dramatic improvement to our offense and anyone not named Suzuki is up for grabs in my opinion. Even Caulfield. If the risk is worth it.

      • LJ,
        The Habs aren’t in a position to trade for Eichel on account of no cap room.

        Who do you propose to move to make room for Eichel’s $10 million?

        Weber and Byron?
        Anderson and Toffoli?
        Drouin and Danault?

        Those are combinations just to make the money work, what additions would you suggest to make it palatable for both.

        I don’t see it.

  4. “The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets have glaring holes at center and the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual average value.”

    Unfortunately for Buffalo, neither of these teams has a lunatic for a GM.

  5. Brooks, what a joke. On March 2nd Brooks wrote an article entitled, Rangers will be at front of line when Sabres shop Jack Eichel, justifying getting Eichel. So which is it Brooks – which flag of the team are you waving today. He is the most biased homer in the media world, cannot rely on him for anything.

  6. To Philadelphia – Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen,

    To Buffalo – Nolan Patrick, Jakob Vorachek, Morgan Frost, Philip Meyers, Shane Gostibehere, 2022 1st round pick (non lottery protected) , 2023 2nd round pick

    • To be honest with you Ron i would rather have Reinahrt/Risto in a deal.

      • I just can’t see Buffalo taking on another expensive winger. Okposo and Skinner are already eating up 15 million in cap space.

        Tkachuk, Monahan or Vorachek, as someone else suggested above I think would be too expensive unless someone is willing to take Okposo or Skinner in return.

    • Bust salary dump decent prospect good defender salary dump not this years 1st and a second in 2 years….

      Very tempting

  7. I think Calgary could make a pitch for Eichel. Offer Gaudreau and one of Monahan (Monahan has a 10 team NTC, so he will have to approve a trade to Buffalo) or Tkachuk (who is still a RFA but will need to be qualified at $9 million after next season), plus one of Connor Zary or Jakob Pelletier, plus a first round pick. This will free up enough cap space for Eichel’s cap hit on the Flames and a couple of top 6 forwards who are needing a change of scenery, a top prospect, and a good first round pick for Buffalo.

    • Kevjam,
      I dont think I would offer Tkachuk and Monahan or Gaudreau. I would offer Tkachuk, a prospect that you indicated and a 1st.
      I think Buffalo would jump on that deal because Calgary’s first this year could be a high one and players like Tkachuk who have leadership ability plus plays a hard pesky game and scores are very hard to come by.

      I would also be very concerned about Eichels injury as well.

      • Flamefan, imo that’s a fair trade proposal. I’d love to see Eichel playing for Sutter.

  8. If Buffalo prefers to jet Eichel to the Western conference….

    Dallas? would be good fit but what can they trade?
    Nashville…. Sabres dont want a Duch or Ryjo…..

  9. I never thought I’d say these words… but I agree with Bruce Garrorich. The Sens have the assets and the cap space to nab Eichel for sure, but I wouldn’t. I really think it is best to see what we have.

    Do I think Norris can become Eichel… offensively, it is not likely. But at his age his defensive numbers are already ELITE! I think he has the chance to be a future Selke contender & still a 50-60 point guy. Pinto, is showing his offensive upside! I just don’t buy into selling the farm.

    To me, the salary, what will be asked, and the injury history, Eichel wouldn’t move the needle far enough for Ottawa. Not a good fit. This is a team that has drafted well and is developing well and should keep to the game plan. When we are a regular contender, that is when you go out and make the big move. To me, if anything, I am looking for that Top 6 RW … I like Batherson/Brown and think they are great, but I’d like a Top 6 RW Batherson/Brown better.

  10. Shinzawa listed the Canucks as a team interested in Eichel. They already have Horvat and Pettersson as their top centres, and they will be hard pressed to find the cap space to resign Pettersson and Hughes. There is no way they will trade key assets that they are trying to build around to free up cap space for a floater like Jack Eichel who in MHO was part of the problem not part of the solution in Buffalo.

  11. If Boston were to make a move for Eichel it would cost them Charlie for sure Boston could afford to move him but in no way would they move Pasta. Charlie and Coyle and two firsts would be minimum and you may need to add a prospect like Beecher.

  12. Rangers and Buffalo already talked trade last year. Guessing Sabres wanted Lafreniere lus pi’s and Rangers walked away. With Eichel forcing issue, and injury concerns, Buffalo might have to come down a little in ask. As far as Brooks statements, I’d say coach Quinn knows the player and can answer whatever “leadership” concerns there might be. Also, Brooksie has written about Zib getting 10 mil next deal. Now he’s down to 8. Maybe by end of next season cost goes to 6!

  13. Bruce Garrioch is yesterdays news and constantly trying to gin up somebody, anybody to be seen outside Ottawa.

    What makes this a “bad” time?
    Eichel is 24, fits him right in the average age for the Sens

    He’s a #1 centre that Norris and Pinto will never be, and they aren’t so much younger.

    Sens have 9 draft picks in the first 3 rounds of this and next years draft.

    I hope it doesn’t happen as the Sens will blow right past Montreal


    Sample formation without Anisimov, Tierney, Dzingel and Abromov. Any combination of these guys and draft picks