NHL Rumor Mill – June 28, 2021
WGR 550: During his recent appearance on “The Instigators,” TSN’s Darren Dreger discussed the possibility of the Vegas Golden Knights pursuing Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel with the hosts. Dreger said he’d be surprised if the Golden Knights hadn’t had that discussion with the Sabres. He also said he’s not buying reports suggesting the Columbus Blue Jackets are out of the bidding for the 24-year-old Eichel.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Tom Callahan believes the Golden Knights need a first-line center and have the assets to put together a deal for Eichel. He pointed out they have their first-round pick plus the New Jersey Devils’ second-rounder (36th overall). They also have pieces that can help the Sabres now (Reilly Smith and Chandler Stephenson) and later (Cody Glass). Callahan acknowledged their limited cap space and believes there would have to be further whittling of the roster to make the dollars fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have a history of making big moves, acquiring core players such as Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alex Pietrangelo via trades and free agency. They could look into the cost of an Eichel trade. However, I don’t think the package proposed by Callahan is sufficient to outbid other teams unless those clubs chicken out and the Sabres get desperate.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to bring back Marc-Andre Fleury. He said the Penguins came close to getting him before this season but the Golden Knights reneged on the deal because ownership got “dewy-eyed” over Fleury’s value to the franchise since its inception in 2017.
Madden believes the Golden Knights would have to absorb part of Fleury’s $7 million cap hit. “The Penguins shouldn’t give more than a third-round pick for a 36-year-old goalie.” He also suggested they try to add a few bigger, older players like Wayne Simmonds, Zdeno Chara, Corey Perry or Eric Staal to affordable short-term contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury said he wants to finish his career with the Golden Knights. He’s got a year left on his contract with a 10-team no-trade clause. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t welcome a return to Pittsburgh but Penguins GM Ron Hextall could have other plans in goal.
THE ATHLETIC: Jesse Granger believes the Golden Knights want to keep Alec Martinez. The 33-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. It could come down to how much term Martinez seeks on his next contract. Offers of three or more years from rival clubs could be difficult to match.
Granger pointed out Fleury wants to finish his career in Vegas and team owner Bill Foley doesn’t want him traded. The Golden Knights also have to make decisions regarding pending UFAs such as Mattias Janmark and Patrick Brown, as well as Cody Glass’ future following his disappointing performance this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Golden Knights have a projected $6.09 million in cap space for next season. Martinez is coming off a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $4 million. His solid performance throughout this season will draw plenty of interest in the free-agent market. Even if he agreed to accept the same cap hit it would eat up most of their cap room. If they pursue Jack Eichel they won’t have enough to keep Martinez.