NHL Rumor Mill – June 22, 2021
The latest on Jack Eichel, which teams could make a pitch for Dougie Hamilton and whether the Bruins should pursue Oliver Ekman-Larsson in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams seeks a king’s ransom for Jack Eichel. A league executive told Murphy that Adams could seek up to six components in the return for the 24-year-old center.
Those components include a top-six center 25-year-old or younger, a top-four defenseman 25-or-young, a first-round pick and various prospects. Murphy said that monumental asking price has some NHL executives wondering if the Sabres GM has misread the market for Eichel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams is going to seek the best return he can get. He’ll start out with a big asking price, interested parties will counter with much-lower offers, and they’ll meet somewhere in the middle.
The initial asking price doesn’t seem to be deterring teams from making inquiries. WGR 550’s Jeremy White hears it could be done in a matter of days, not weeks, with the status of Eichel’s neck injury and the conditions of a trade some of the hurdles still to be cleared.
At the very least, the Sabres should get a high first-round pick, a top prospect and a good young NHL player in the return for Eichel. They’ll probably get one or two other pieces as well. They could land two first-rounders if they’re dealing with a team carrying extra picks in the opening round in this year’s draft.
POTENTIAL DESTINATIONS FOR HAMILTON
SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston recently examined several teams that could pull off a sign-and-trade scenario for Dougie Hamilton. The Carolina Hurricanes are allowing the 28-year-old defenseman to speak with other clubs prior to his July 28 eligibility for unrestricted free agent status.
Johnston’s seven destinations are the Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Seattle Kraken, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks could be the top suitor here. They’ll have nearly $11 million in cap relief to draw upon if necessary with Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve. Johnston noted a recent report indicating they’re interested in Hamilton, as well as Columbus’ Seth Jones.
Hamilton could be a fit with the Flyers but a recent report out of Philadelphia suggested they couldn’t pull this off without shedding a high-salaried player. They’re also rumored to be looking at Seth Jones.
The Jets have over $20 million in projected cap space with restricted free agents Andrew Copp and Neal Pionk to re-sign. They could have enough for Hamilton if they’re willing to pay up to $8 million annually but that won’t leave much room to fill out the rest of their roster.
Kraken GM Ron Francis could make a pitch, but Hamilton might not be keen to sign with an expansion club. The Devils have plenty of cap space to sign him to a big raise but we don’t know if he’s willing to join a rebuilding team. Their priority could be finding scoring wingers for young centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
The Rangers already have Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba on the right side of their blueline. The Oilers, meanwhile, could put more focus on adding a scoring winger especially if they lose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to free agency.
COULD THE BRUINS PURSUE EKMAN-LARSSON?
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed recent reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes will try again to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The 29-year-old defenseman has struggled over the last three seasons and carries an $8.25 million annual cap hit for the next six seasons. He also carries a full no-movement clause but was willing to waive it last fall for the Boston Bruins or Vancouver Canucks.
Haggerty also pointed out Ekman-Larsson still managed three goals and 24 points in 46 games this season. With the blueliner considered a depressed asset, this could be a good opportunity for a team like the Bruins to acquire him while his trade value is low if the Coyotes will pick up part of his cap hit.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins should pass on Ekman-Larsson. If they acquire all or part of his remaining cap hit, it’ll tie up money to re-sign free agents Brandon Carlo and Mike Reilly. His disappointing play is also a red flag. Goss believes Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm is a better option if the Bruins intend to pursue a trade for a left-side defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Goss, though I doubt they’ll be able to pry Ekholm away from the Predators. It’s possible Ekman-Larsson’s performance could improve on a better club like the Bruins, and the Coyotes could pick up a healthy chunk of his cap hit. It’s the six years remaining on his contract that concerns me.