NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2021
An early look at possible offseason moves by the Jets, the Sabres are getting calls about Jack Eichel, plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE JETS?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Winnipeg Jets must focus on addressing their defense in the offseason. They’re expected to protect Josh Morrissey, Dylan DeMelo and Neal Pionk in the expansion draft, meaning they risk losing Logan Stanley to the Seattle Kraken.
He pondered if they’ll finally give more playing time to promising blueliners like Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola or stick with stopgap measures Tucker Poolman, Derek Forbort and Jordie Benn. He also wondered if they’ll use their $14.9 million in cap space to bolster their top-four.
SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe also weighed in on the Jets’ potential offseason plans. He doubts head coach Paul Maurice or general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be shown the door, but believes the roster requires an upgrade.
Like Wyshynski, Wiebe believes they must enhance the defense corps. He also cited promising youngsters Heinola and Samberg could be ready for full-time duty. Despite the emergence of Stanley this season, the Jets could go shopping for an experienced blueliner via the trade market or free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once their strength, the defense corps has become a weakness for the Jets. It’s been an ongoing issue for the last two years and cannot go unaddressed for a third season.
Heinola and Samberg should help, as could Stanley if he’s not snapped up by the Kraken. Nevertheless, they also need an experienced top-four defenseman, preferably one who skates on the right side.
TEAMS CALLING SABRES ABOUT EICHEL
TSN: Darren Dreger reports teams are contacting the Buffalo Sabres expressing interest in several of their players, including team captain Jack Eichel. Dreger believes those conversations will increase ahead of the NHL draft weekend on July 23-24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel raised eyebrows last month suggesting a “disconnect” between himself and management over treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. That generated considerable speculation over whether he’ll be traded this summer.
The report also indicated there’s been speculation about the futures of Sabres center Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Reinhart, a restricted free agent, was noncommittal about his future in Buffalo during his end-of-season press conference. Ristolainen, meanwhile, said he’d be fine with a trade or remaining a Sabre. Blueliner Colin Miller could also draw interest in the trade market.
Buffalo fans would probably love to see their club shed the expensive contracts of Jeff Skinner ($9 million annual average value through 2026-27) and Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), but I doubt they’ll be moved in an offseason with a flattened salary cap.
LATEST ON THE PENGUINS
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports a well-placed source within the Penguins organization said the club intends to protect goaltender Tristan Jarry and center Evgeni Malkin in next month’s expansion draft. Malkin has a no-movement clause but he’d only waive it to go to Florida, where he and his family reside.
Kingerski also indicated the Penguins seek a veteran goaltender with playoff experience and could have an eye on Toronto’s Frederik Andersen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t seem to want to give up on Jarry. He could benefit from an experienced mentor to help him split the duties for the next year or two. Andersen’s critics will snort with laughter over the thought of him backing up Jarry but he does have a solid resume over most of his tenure in Toronto. He could also benefit from a lighter workload compared to what he endured with the Maple Leafs.
No surprise Malkin has no interest in waiving his NMC to go to Seattle. He’s made no secret of his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. While he might welcome a trade to the Florida Panthers, they have no reason to acquire him when they’re planning to pay captain Aleksander Barkov a lot of money to stay put.