NHL Rumor Mill – June 19, 2021
LATEST ON EICHEL
WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.
The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.
Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.
The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.
BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.
Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.
Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.
UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.
Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.
The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.
I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.
BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.