NHL Rumor Mill – July 29, 2021
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl provides an update on where things stand with the Buffalo Sabres’ efforts to trade Jack Eichel. The Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers could still be in the mix but the Minnesota Wild have dropped out. The Los Angeles Kings’ free-agent spending spree (Phillip Danault, Alex Edler and Andreas Athanasiou) takes them out of the equation.
Vogl indicates the Sabres feel teams are offering too little for Eichel while the interest parties feel the Sabres are asking too much. Teams with cap space that could benefit from a first-line center like Eichel include the Ducks, Rangers, Seattle Kraken, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just because most of those teams have the cap space to acquire Eichel’s hefty contract doesn’t mean they will. His neck injury and the Sabres’ high asking price are the big sticking points here.
The Predators are already carrying two expensive centers in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen and won’t be keen to add a third unless the Sabres agree to take Duchene or Johansen in return. The Devils, meanwhile, are building around young centers Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
Vogl’s colleague Michael Russo reports the Wild backed out because they’re fed up with the Sabres’ high asking price for a $10 million star with a neck injury. Meanwhile, Hailey Salvian wonders if the Calgary Flames could be positioning themselves to make a bid for Eichel with $12.9 million in cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could get back into it if the Sabres reduce their price. However, I think their focus is on re-signing Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. As for the Flames, GM Brad Treliving probably kicked tires but I don’t think he’s planning a serious bid here. His bold moves were signing Blake Coleman and acquiring Nikita Zadorov.
Eric Stephens observes the Ducks can afford Eichel if general manager Bob Murray can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to take back a salary in return, suggesting Adam Henrique or Rickard Rakell as options. He anticipates the Ducks would also have to part with a promising young center (other than Trevor Zegras) and their 2022 first-round pick as part of the return.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Chris Drury’s first summer as Rangers GM can be distilled by whatever decision he makes regarding Eichel. He speculates the Vegas Golden Knights could be among the Eichel suitors after shipping out Marc-Andre Fleury’s $7 million cap hit to the Chicago Blackhawks. Brooks believes there’s no need for Drury to rush into a deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Ducks and Rangers are most interested in Eichel. Nevertheless, I don’t see them pulling the trigger until the Sabres reduce their price and they get assurances Eichel’s health has improved.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon poured cold water on the notion of his club pursuing Eichel. “We’re not likely to be involved in other discussions,” said McCrimmon. He pointed out they’ve spent the money available to them and addressed their needs going forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights made several moves, but none that addressed their obvious need for a true first-line center. The only nod in that direction was signing third-line center Mattias Janmark. As things stand now, they’ll be heading into 2021-22 with Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson remaining as their top-two centers.
They might not be in on Eichel but that doesn’t mean they don’t make a move for another center before training camp. Maybe they make a move for Mika Zibanejad if the Rangers decide to make a serious pitch for Eichel? Yes, Zibanejad has a no-movement clause but maybe he’d waive it for Vegas. Something to ponder, folks.
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a source believes the St. Louis Blues are diminishing Vladimir Tarasenko’s trade value the longer they hand onto the unhappy winger. The source feels Blues GM Doug Armstrong miscalculated the situation by seeking too much in return. Where once there were four teams interested in Tarasenko there are now still at least two but the options are dwindling following yesterday’s activity in the free-agent market.
Rutherford believes the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils make the most sense as trade destinations. The Devils have plenty of salary cap space and would like to add a top-six forward. The Hurricanes have $15.4 million in cap space and need scoring but they must also re-sign winger Andrei Svechnikov. He also wondered if the Blues might include Tarasenko in a pitch for Jack Eichel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong has indicated he wouldn’t have any problem with Tarasenko returning this season but I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest right now. The Blue GM could be forced to accept less than his asking price to move him now. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
The Devils could be out if Brandon Saad accepts the contract offer they pitched him yesterday. If that falls through, maybe they’d be willing to pursue a Tarasenko deal if he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.