NHL Rumor Mill – July 1, 2021
The Blackhawks are working on a trade for Duncan Keith plus the latest on the Sabres in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BLACKHAWKS ATTEMPTING TO TRADE KEITH
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported last evening the Chicago Blackhawks are working on a potential trade for Duncan Keith. The move could send the 37-year-old defenseman to “either the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada.”
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cited Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times reporting Keith’s family lives in Penticton, British Columbia during the off-season and his son stayed there this season. He wants to be closer to his family as his career winds down. Wegman suggested the teams that fit the criteria are the Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and perhaps the San Jose Sharks.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston cites a source saying the Canucks aren’t believed to be interested in acquiring Keith citing their limited cap space. They seem inclined toward re-signing Alexander Edler. Cap space could also rule out the Flames as a destination. Another source suggested the Jets would be too far east.
Keith has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $5.538 million but he’s owed just $3.6 million in actual salary over those remaining seasons.
Johnston believes the Oilers have cap space to work with, as do the expansion Kraken. Both are relatively short flights from Penticton.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples examines if Keith would make sense for the Oilers. Given his high cap hit, it would be a steep price to pay for a defenseman on his last NHL legs unless the Oiler can move out an iffy contract like James Neal or Mikko Koskinen in the deal. He doubts the Blackhawks would pick up half of Keith’s annual cap hit. Staples also points out Keith’s stats indicate he’s producing at a low third-pairing level.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken could be the best destination. They have plenty of cap space, Keith could provide leadership and experience to the expansion roster, and he’s still a recognizable name. Whether the Kraken or any of those other clubs are interested remains to be seen.
LATEST ON THE SABRES
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are said to be seeking the equivalent of four first-round picks in exchange for captain Jack Eichel. However, TSN’s Darren Dreger believes that the high asking price is depressing the 24-year-old center’s value in the trade market.
The Blackhawks are reportedly among the suitors for Eichel. However, Dreger cited a source saying their interest isn’t believed to be that high as they already have three high-priced forwards in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. He believes they’re more interested in adding a high-end defenseman like Columbus’ Seth Jones or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.
Dreger noted the Anaheim Ducks have also been connected to Eichel. Because they’re in the midst of a rebuild, they’re believed to be balking at the Sabres’ asking price. He also doubted their interest is as high as has been speculated. Dreger feels the New York Rangers remain well-positioned to make the best offer, despite the Sabres’ misgivings about sending Eichel there.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks and Ducks could be performing due diligence to determine the Sabres’ asking price. Maybe they’ll be more interested if Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams drops his price to a more reasonable level.
I don’t blame Adams for setting a high ask as he wants the best possible return. He’ll see what interested parties counter with and try to find something in-between that works for both clubs.
The Blackhawks could free up additional cap dollars if they can find a taker for Duncan Keith. They’ll likely use those savings to put toward landing a star defenseman as Dreger observed.
I originally believed the Los Angeles Kings would be the best destination. They appear more interested in less expensive top-six forwards.
We don’t know how serious the Rangers’ reported interest in Eichel could be. Adams probably prefers moving him as far away from Buffalo as possible. However, he could have little choice but to move him to an eastern club if he can’t find better offers from western teams.
Sources tell me the Sabres are higher on William Eklund than any other forward in this draft class.
A name to watch if the Sabres acquire another top 10 pick.
— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) June 30, 2021