NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021
EICHEL TRADE CHATTER HEATING UP
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing trade conversations between the Buffalo Sabres and other teams regarding Jack Eichel are getting “serious and intense.” He believes Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams will want a first-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the return.
WGR 550: Franklin Heinzmann suggests the Ducks could be the ideal trade partner for the Sabres. He wondered if they would offer up promising center Trevor Zegras and the third-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of the return for Eichel.
The price for Eichel, who’s coming off a down season and a neck injury, will never be better. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league, the Senators can afford his $10 million annual salary-cap hit for the remaining five seasons of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt teams calling the Sabres to inquire about the asking price for Eichel. First-line centers in their playing prime don’t become available every day. They’re also certain to be interested in his ongoing treatment for a herniated disk in his neck. After all, if you’re going to part with some prized assets for a $10 million superstar, you better be sure he won’t have any lingering health issues that could hamper his performance.
The Kings seem the best fit in terms of cap space and tradeable assets. They’re also reportedly seeking two top-six forwards this summer. In my recent conversation with John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, however, he said it’s believed they’re seeking established scorers around 27-years-old with two or three years remaining on their contracts. In other words, they want transitional players to buy more development time for their promising youngsters.
Everything I’ve seen and heard about the Ducks in recent weeks points toward rebuilding with younger players like Zegras. GM Bob Murray attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois earlier this season, but that was when he still considered his club a potential playoff contender. I could be wrong but I think it’s a different story now.
I agree with Brennan that the Senators are well-positioned to make a competitive bid for Eichel. However, Dorion and his staff like the potential they’re seeing from their club over the last two seasons. I’d put them in the “long shot” category.
Rick Carpiniello, The Athletic’s Rangers writer, said he’s heard they’re “not likely, or much less likely now”, to pursue Eichel. He didn’t elaborate but I suspect that’s due to the recent front-office shake-up and their hiring of Gerard Gallant earlier this week as their new head coach.
The Wild need an established first-line center but I’m not sure GM Bill Guerin will part with the assets necessary to get Eichel following his club’s solid performance this season. He could consider more affordable options in the trade and free-agent markets. The Flyers seem more focused on pursuing a top-pairing right-side defenseman than on landing a first-line center.
The Jackets have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres need goaltenders and the Jackets are reportedly willing to move Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins to a return that addresses other roster needs. Perhaps there’s a fit there. Heck, maybe they include Laine in the deal if he proves difficult to sign to a long-term extension.
COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SAM REINHART?
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes it would be worthwhile for the Vancouver Canucks to kick the tires on the Sabres’ Sam Reinhart. A versatile forward who can play center or wing, the 25-year-old North Vancouver native wants out of Buffalo and wants to move west.
There’s a buzz among Canucks fans about potentially parting with the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft to acquire Reinhart. GM Jim Benning has indicated he’s going to keep his options open with that pick, including shopping it for a good young player.
SPORTSNET 650: Chris Johnston believes Reinhart can be a top-six contributor for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He feels he could be very effective in a second-line role behind an all-star first line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benning took a lot of flak last year for letting Tyler Toffoli depart to Montreal via free agency. Acquiring Reinhart could atone for that move.
Reinhart to Vancouver seems like a great fit. The Sabres would be very interested if Benning came calling with that first-round pick, though they could also ask for something else to be included in the deal.