NHL Rumor Mill – July 14, 2021
Will the Wild pursue Jack Eichel after buying out Parise and Suter? What’s the latest on Gabriel Landeskog and Jake Allen? Are big decisions coming for the Blackhawks, Predators and Panthers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
WILD TO PURSUE EICHEL?
TSN: Darren Dreger talked about what could be next for the Minnesota Wild following their decision to buy out the contracts of winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. Re-signing restricted free agents Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala are priorities.
Dreger said the Wild would love to add a first-line center. He believes they’ll make a trade offer to the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel. However, general manager Bill Guerin won’t blow their cap space or overpay with trade assets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s buyouts of Parise and Suter give them over $26 million in projected salary-cap space for 2021-22. Nearly half of that could be invested in Kaprizov and Fiala.
They’ll have less room beyond next season when they’ll have between $12.7 million and $14.7 million in dead cap space from 2022-23 to 2024-25. I don’t think Eichel’s a fit in Minnesota unless Guerin convinces the Sabres to absorb a healthy chunk of his $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE BLACKHAWKS FOLLOWING THE KEITH TRADE?
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examined what could be in store for the Chicago Blackhawks after shipping Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week. They could attempt to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, especially after getting younger brother Caleb Jones as part of the return from the Oilers. They also have enough cap space to pursue Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton if he hits the open market on July 28.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Blackhawks are also open to improving their goaltending. He cited a league source saying they could be in play for Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. With just one season left on his contract, the Blackhawks can afford his $7 million cap hit for next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is believed keen to add a top-pairing right-side defenseman. His preference could be for Jones if the Jackets blueliner is willing to sign a long-term contract extension. If not, that focus could shift to Hamilton.
The Golden Knights are pressed for cap space and probably won’t take back much salary if they decide to move Fleury. He could be had for a draft pick. That depends on whether Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has changed his mind about Fleury finishing his career in Vegas and if the Blackhawks are on Fleury’s list of trade destinations.
COULD AVALANCHE PART WAYS WITH LANDESKOG?
Dreger said the Colorado Avalanche and captain Gabriel Landeskog aren’t even close in their contract talks. The 28-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He pointed out it’s still early in the process.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog is completing a seven-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.57 million. He could seek over $7 million on a long-term deal. The Avalanche has over $25 million in cap room but they must also re-sign Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer and Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar. Both are in line for big raises.
Rival clubs will be ready to pounce if Landeskog hits the open market. The St. Louis Blues are reportedly preparing a “full pitch effort” to sign him. They have over $17 million in cap space but could be $7.5 million more if they can trade unhappy right wing Vladimir Tarasenko.
TOUGH DECISIONS AHEAD FOR PREDATORS?
Pierre LeBrun believes the Nashville Predators face some difficult decisions in the upcoming expansion draft. They’ve got five defensemen they really like in Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier.
He thinks the Predators have had a discussion about a side deal with the Seattle Kraken. They could also trade a defenseman to another club before the draft. They could opt to protect those five by protecting eight skaters but LeBrun doubts they’ll do that. He also speculated they could expose center Matt Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the side deal is trying to convince the Kraken to select Duchene. Given his declining production and $8 million annual average value for the next five seasons, they’ll have to toss in a significant sweetener.
LATEST ON THE PANTHERS
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, George Richards was asked if the Florida Panthers would ask Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause for either a trade, buyout or exposure in the expansion draft.
Richards hasn’t been able to confirm if the Panthers have approached Yandle about it. He said he’d heard whispers of a handshake agreement between the two sides but nothing’s been substantiated. He thinks Yandle won’t be back with the team one way or another.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports half a dozen teams have contacted the Panthers with a serious interest in pending UFA goaltender Chris Driedger. That level of interest could boost the cost of his next contract to $3.5 million per season. LeBrun believes the Seattle Kraken are among the interested parties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for teams to ask players to waive their NMCs was yesterday at 5 pm ET. Any players asked to do so have until Friday to reach a decision. We’ll learn by then if Yandle was among them.
Yandle is signed through 2022-23 with an annual cap hit of $6.35 million. His full no-move becomes a modified 12-team no-trade list next summer. Buying him out would could as $2.3 million this season against the Panthers cap but it jumps to $5.3 million in 2022-23 before dropping to $1.2 million per season for the final two years of the buyout.
If Yandle won’t waive his clause for the Kraken (or they don’t take him if he does), the Panthers’ best option is to try to trade him to a team if he’s willing to waive his clause for certain teams. That’ll likely mean taking back a toxic contract or absorbing a chunk of his cap hit to facilitate a deal.
Keep an eye on Driedger. He could be traded before the expansion draft next Wednesday.
COULD THE CANADIENS SHOP ALLEN?
TVA SPORTS: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman speculating the Montreal Canadiens could be tempted to trade Jake Allen rather than risk losing him for nothing to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. He’s starting a two-year, $5.75 million contract. The Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres are two clubs whose goalie issues have been well-documented.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin can convince his Kraken counterpart to pass over Allen for another unprotected Hab. Failing that, maybe Bergevin can swing a deal with a club seeking reliable goalie depth before the expansion draft.