NHL Rumor Mill – May 13, 2021

by | May 13, 2021 | Rumors | 31 comments

Should the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel or Matthew Tkachuk? What the latest speculation on the Flames and Sharks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.


ESPN: Emily Kaplan believes the New York Rangers will be mentioned as front-runners for Jack Eichel if the Buffalo Sabres shop their captain in the offseason. His agents are the same ones who represented Rangers general manager Chris Drury during his playing days.

They could find a way to fit Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit through 2025-26 into their cap payroll. However, Kaplan feels a bigger priority is figuring out how to re-sign center Mika Zibanejad.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello doesn’t believe it would be worth the cost for the Rangers to acquire a center like Eichel when he’s not much better than Zibanejad right now. Pursuing an upgrade over second-line center Ryan Strome would be a better option. He recommends targeting an “Aleksander Barkov type” – slated for unrestricted free agent status next summer and possibly available at next season’s trade deadline.

Could the New York Rangers pursue Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk in this summer’s trade market? (NHL Images).

Adding a tough forward comparable to the Tkachuk brothers in Calgary and Ottawa or Washington’s Tom Wilson should be the Rangers’ priority. It could mean sacrificing a top-six forward or two to address that need.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk would be a perfect fit for the Rangers. It would take a “massive bounty” to pry Tkachuk away.

Brooks considers Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere and perhaps Ryan Lindgren as untouchable. The Rangers would be reluctant to part with Kaapo Kakko and K’Andre Miller but they’ll have to trade someone they don’t want to sacrifice to land a transformational top-six forward. A package containing a permutation of Filip Chytil, Pavel Buchnevich, Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, Nils Lundkvist and future first-rounders probably won’t get it done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading for Eichel would be a bold move for the Rangers and one team CEO James Dolan would probably approve. However, his cap hit would be expensive while meeting the Sabres’ asking price could hurt the Rangers’ overall roster depth. It’ll also make it very difficult to re-sign Zibanejad.

Tkachuk would provide that physical boost among the Rangers’ top-six. That being said, the factors that make him attractive to the Blueshirts also make him valuable to the Flames.

Finding a Barkov-type by next year’s trade deadline won’t be easy. Barkov himself could be re-signed by the Panthers this summer following their strong performance this season. Sean Couturier would be the best fit but I don’t see the Philadelphia Flyers parting ways with him.

Patrice Bergeron falls into that category but he’ll turn 36 in July and should finish his career as a Bruin. Nazem Kadri could also fall into that category but the Avs won’t move him if they’re still among the Cup contenders.


CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson includes the status of winger Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano among the five key questions facing the Flames this offseason.

Some are convinced the 27-year-old Gaudreau could depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent. Trading one of their leading scorers, however, would also force the Flames to go shopping for his replacement.

The Flames could have little choice but to leave Giordano exposed in this summer’s expansion draft. The team captain turns 38 later this year and has a year remaining on his contract. Gilbertson wonders if they should swing a side deal with the Seattle Kraken to convince them to take another player.

GM Brad Treliving will be on the hot seat after seven seasons and five head coaches. However, his future could be tied to recently-hired head coach Darryl Sutter. They both have two years left on their contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’ve been growing calls among Calgary fans and pundits to move Gaudreau. This team needs a shakeup after two disappointing seasons. Trading Gaudreau could be part of that plan unless there are talks afoot about a contract extension. If they trade him they must find someone via trade or free agency to replace his production.

As for Giordano, the Kraken could be reluctant to select an aging defenseman who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see how the Flames handle this situation.


THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reports San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson acknowledged his club’s depth in goal and finding a third-lie center must be addressed. He said he’s willing to explore all options. That could include talks with teams to make players available, either with the Seattle Kraken or other clubs in a different position than the Sharks at the expansion draft.

Kurz speculates the Sharks could buy out the remaining three years of goalie Martin Jones’ contract. That would save the Sharks $3.8 million next season, $3.3 million in 2022-23 and $2.8 million in 2023-24 before getting dinged with $1.67 million annually against their cap over the final three years of the six-year buyout period.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White believes Tomas Hertl’s future with the Sharks should also be among their priorities. The 27-year-old forward is eligible next summer for UFA status. He recommends re-signing him this summer or trading him by the draft. He also feels they should consider exposing high-salaried players such as Jones, Evander Kane and Brent Burns in the hope the Kraken selects one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a well-deserved reputation as a savvy wheeler-dealer. However, this offseason could be the biggest test of his long career as the Sharks GM. They’ve got too many aging players carrying hefty contracts that could prove too difficult to move without absorbing some salary and/or packaging them with sweeteners (draft picks, prospects) they can’t afford to give up.

Judging by Wilson’s comments, he’s mapped out his plans for the offseason and seems confident that he has sufficient options to address his needs. We’ll have to wait until this summer to find out what they are and if he can pull it off. His job could depend on it.


  1. The Flames need a new decision maker, plain & simple … they are in no man’s land.

    • Ed, are you upset with their GM as well?

    • The Flames are in the same place now than they were when Treliving was hired. They had one good season in his 7 seasons as GM. The rest of them they finished between 3rd and 5th in their division. This season the Flames could finish as low as 6th depending on what happens in their final 4 games, which was the place they finished the season before Treliving took over as GM.

  2. Ny has Panarin, Kreider, Zibanejad, Strome, Buchnevich, Laffrienere, Kakko, and are log jammed at wing as is. Why do they need a top 6 player again?

    I’ve argued and pointed out Stromes numbers to the point of nauseam. I’ll spare you all of doing it again. Chytil is fine at 3c and could develop into a 2C in the near future.

    Ny could use a good 4c penalty killing , face off guy (Glendenning) and some grit in the lineup.

    They don’t need Eichel or Tkachuk or their cap hits.

    • Ive been saying Glendening on the 4th line and Hertl or similar @2C

      Sharks not going to be any better next season unless you say they will be better than Arizona+the Ducks.

      No room for Tkachuk..not taking ice time from Panarin or Laf on LW. Rangers need the 2C, 4C, bottom pair D and a COACH

      • I don’t know that they even need to tie up money on a bottom pairing d-man for more than a year or two. Lundkvist, Robertson and Schneider are on the way up in the next year or two.
        The 2C spot is fine for now. Strome has been fine on both sides of the puck. Bsb did an article on his improved metrics a few months back.

        Trouba- Miller
        Lundkvist-Schneider / Robertson

        I’d bring in a vet for a year, possibly two just to steady the d temporarily. To make sure the young ones develop without rushing them.

    • CO,

      I totally agree with you on this.
      I had expected more from NYR this year being loaded with young talent.

      Eichel isn’t needed, and had Zibanejad been healthy to start the year this team could very well have been in the playoffs.

  3. After hearing what Elliot Friedman said on the NHL network about Eichel’s injury situation yesterday, NOBODY should entertain trading for him. He’s looking to have an artificial disc replacement surgery, a surgery not done in the states and seems to be experimental. NO THANKS.. The Rangers would have to be insane to mortgage the future for that cap hit along with that unknown regarding his injury. Not the biggest Zibanejad fan but for hopefully 2.5-3m less than Eichel’s cap hit I’ll take him, he’s more durable and hasn’t missed nearly the amount of time as Eichel.

    • nick, have you read up on the procedure? Yes, there is risk involved – with our without the artificial disk and on that basis buyer beware for sure.

      But if you do read more about it you will read anMMA fighter has had the procedure and been able to successfully return to fighting.

      Certainly, as a new procedure there is a small sample size by which to judge it, but it is not witchcraft. Read also on the origin of the Tommy John surgery now widely used in basedball. The surgeon who developed it did so by ad libbing mid surgery. Interesting read there too.

      • Too many typos, sorry. Not enough coffee.

    • From Friedman’s article. “Cervical disk replacement surgery involves removing a diseased cervical disk and replacing it with an artificial disk. Before this procedure was available, the affected disk was removed and the vertebrae above and below were fused together to prevent motion. The use of an artificial disk to replace your natural cervical disk is a new type of treatment that has recently been approved by the FDA. Disk replacement surgery may have the advantage of allowing more movement and creating less stress on your remaining vertebrae than traditional cervical disk surgery.”
      A UFC fighter had this done 2 years ago and had 3 fights since then. IMO it sounds better than removing and fusing.
      I also understand Ranger fans comparing Zibanajab to Eichel. However Eichel has an 80 point season on a bad team, with Zibanajab having 2 consecutive seasons with over 70 points. Also taking away this season Zibanajab. In the last 3 seasons, not including this season, Zibanajab has a total of 196 points in 211 games played. Eichel has a total of 224 points in 182 games played. Eichel did this on a really bad Buffalo team where the opponents just need to focus on shutting down Eichel, which also could be a contributor to his injury history. Just imagine what Eichel can do on a deeper team when the opponent can’t just focus on him.
      I also believe Buffalo won’t trade Eichel to a division rival, unless that team gives Buffalo an unbelievable package for him.

      • As a pens fan I hope the rags avoid Eichel. They would be beastly with zib as their second line center.

      • I don’t think the team Zibanejad is on was much better than Buffalo during that span.

        He does no play with Panarin. He’s played with Fast and Buchnevich primarily over that span and Kreider on his left.

        Zibanejad will probably cost 8 per vs. Eichel at 10 per.

        Ny can’t afford Trouba , Panarin, Zibanejad, Kreider, Eichel and hope to keep some of these young players coming up.
        Specifically Fox , Shesterkin, Laffrienere, Kakko.

        If Fox continues to develop, what’s his price tag going to look like?

        The million dollar question. Is Eichel even going to play one game next year? The next, can he stay healthy?

        I wouldn’t expect Eichel in NY.

    • Nick, the Sabres are against that procedure and want Eichel to rehab slowly.

      But your point is spot on, with Eichel injury why would you take on $10m annual debt and give up a bounty of assets to acquire a player whose health is uncertain.

      • This is exactly what I was saying yesterday Caper, the Sabers are in an extremely tough spot. The unknown of the injury moving forward, teams knowing he doesn’t want to be in Buffalo, teams knowing he wants to likely say on the east coast and his Salary of 10 mill are all flags.

        There is no way the anyone is going to give buffalo anything close to being speculated on the trade front.

      • The Sabres are in a tough spot GreatGonzo. But it is of their own making. When one player is disgruntled and wants out it might be unique. When several quality players want out that’s on ownership/management.

      • I can’t see the Sabers getting full value until Eichel proves he is healthy, so after the surgery and rehab. No idea how long that takes.
        After seeing the difference in Hall’s play since being moved out of Buffalo has made me rethink how players will perform on a good team vs a crappy one.
        Eichel, like Hall, has the physical talent. And to LJ’s point, something is wrong in BUF. Is Eichel part of the problem? No clue, but BUF will be selling low on him too if they decide to make the move.
        Endless cycle of suck right now.

      • Eichel is 24 and I don’t think he’s doing anything to jeopardize his career. I’m sure NYR won’t enter into a trade without fill knowledge of his med records and prognosis. Agree that offers won’t be close to whatever is being tossed around here. Remember, NY already passed on him last year.I do believe they will get him though. They’re very deep at wing and defense as far as prospects. If Buffalo wants to keep Risto and Reinhardt they’ll need to get back at least 1 or 2 roster players as to not set team back another few years. Eichel will double Stromes numbers playing with Panarin. Strome on 3rd line with Kreider makes team that much better.

      • Question:

        If he goes against the teams advice, has surgery & never recovers enough to resume his career fully, can the Sabres void the contract??


        If he has surgery against the teams advice & cannot continue to play, will the teams insurance cover him????

  4. I’m not sure why pundits keep mentioning Kane’s name when it comes to offloading salary by the Sharks. He seems to be maturing, and was the Shark’s best player this year. Focus should be on Burns, Karlsson and Jones. Leaving the first two available to the Kraken would be a good start, as well as buying out Jones. Vlassic is pretty unmovable, and he won’t wave his NMC anyways, so they’ll have to eat it on him.

    • Hi Rock

      Karlsson also has an NMC…. Not sure if he’ll waive it… if not… he (like the Pickle) must be protected

      Re Jones… Not sure if Wilson has been given (from ownership) the autonomy to do a buyout… would cost $10 M cash (over 6 years)…. cap savings $3.8, $3.3, $2.8 followed by dead cap hit of $1.7 M for 3 years

      50 % retention trade may be more palatable …. cash cost $7.5 M vs $10 M…. cap savings of $2.9 M for 3 years then off books…. might get an asset back… even if a late rounder…. so save $2.5 M cash; get 900K less in Cap sailings next year and $400 K less the year after; but zero dead cap in out years; and maybe an asset comes back…..

      the problem is that Jones can nix being traded to 27 different teams…. would he waive?

      Also… who would take him? 3 years running at 896 save percentage clip

  5. I see little point in the flames protecting or making a deal to protect Giordano. The player is aging and only has a few more years left in the league. His best days as an NHL defensmen are behind him.

    I like to think that all the trades made with Vegas which back fired in teams would teach a lesson. Choose your protected list. Let Vegas pick and the Gods will sort it out.

    Why give up picks and young players who may turn out to be quite good to Seattle to protect only one guy?

    • I agree with all of that.
      Stay pat, lick your wounds if you lose a good player, and do your best to replace that player in the UFA market.
      I don’t think Seattle will pick Giordano if he’s left exposed. By looking at the Flames list of players that are expansion draft eligible and who maybe protected, I would guess that Kylington will be the player they lose.

  6. Brooksie all-star buffet. He looks around the league, an says how the best players (on other teams) should be playing in a Ranger uniform.

  7. I am thinking San Jose trades for Eichel lets just assume he’s healthy and or comes back from surgery healthy. A healthy Jack would do wonders for San Jose and they will be able to land a deal for him that meets Buffalo’s needs.

    No I am not a San Jose fan. But, San Jose has had better years when they score a lot.

    • who does sharks have that sabres would want? Not too many trade senarios there. I can’t see Sharks giving up their first rounders for Eichel and the flags that come with him.

      • No kidding Owen. Good points. Plus, all San Jose needs is to bring in Eichel and his $10,000,000 cap hit to 2025-26 and, for the next several seasons, have $51,500,000 tied up in 6 players

        Eichel, Couture ($8 mil to 2026-27), Kane ($7 mil to 2024-25), Karlsson ($11.5 mil to 2026-27), Burns ($8 mil to 2024-25), and Vlasic ($7 mil to 2025-26). And Buffalo isn’t taking any of those bloated contracts in exchange, never mind trying to find some other willing team.

        Sharks, if not constantly swimming, drown. And these Sharks are drowning – and it’s only going to get worse before it even starts to get better.

      • George, lol. That’s pretty good stuff. I’m not sure the comparison to actual sharks is in any way scientific but the symbolism is gold.

    • I would love for the Sharks to get Eichel but there’s very little chance it could happen, and that’s not even factoring in the salary cap. The Sharks don’t have any high-end prospects the Sabres would want (Merkley maybe, but very doubtful) and no cheap young players making an impact in the NHL right now.

      Maybe the Sabres believe Meier and Labanc can rediscover the promise they showed a couple years ago. Perhaps Hertl would sign off on a trade. Any deal would have to include at least two of those three players, then add Merkley and the 2021 1st. Pretty much every other team can offer way better than that.

  8. Not that it means anything but the Vegas line has the Bruins a small favorite over the Caps ….interesting

  9. Re Eichel trade

    Disc replacement surgery is relatively new, has had success (UFC… a couple of you have posted)…. but is not guaranteed 100% AND even if successful …. there is recoup time off and no guarantee that he comes back producing at that level

    So for sure there is a risk in the acquisition… and just like any risk involved move (trade) the market value takes this into consideration

    Add to that …. a player who (rightfully or wrongfully) has been portrayed as let’s say “contentious” in the dressing room (forced the ouster of ROR …. painful move by Sabres)…. and that will (as it should ) be taken into consideration , when an offer is made

    Now re Rangers and Eichel…. is Eichel younger, faster and better than MZ…. yes

    Would Handsome Jack/MZ as 1/2 down the centre make Rangers a very strong team….Yep

    Is HJ worth more than twice the cost of MZ (less than $4.8 M next year)…. no, not at all. Not at all.

    Add to that… assets … including roster players, that have to be given up to get HJ; and no guarantee he’ll return to the NHL ( with or without surgery) at the production level he was at 🧐😳

    So…. would I pay Adam’s likely asking price if I were Drury….. not a chance.I (as Drury) would likely not get in a bidding war for HJ under any circumstance

    But I’m not Drury… and he definitely wants to put his stamp on this team… so he just might do it

    What Drury should NOT do, under ANY circumstance; is hire Torts…. that is disaster waiting to happen

    Get Gallant; make a more reasonable move at 2C, keep MZ at 1C… that’s the logical move

    As a Pens fan …. My hopes are for Drury to blow ton’s o’ assets on HJ; hire Torts; have successive head banging sessions between the two with multiple “sits” of HJ by Torts; resulting in HJ dropping down to no more than 55 pts (in 82 games) and a decline in the overall future outlook of the Rangers