NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2021
The latest on Jack Eichel, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Evander Kane, participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported a meeting was held on Aug. 18 between the NHL, NHL Players Association, Buffalo Sabres, Jack Eichel and some medical professionals to attempt a resolution to the impasse between the club and the 24-year-old center.
Eichel prefers a disc replacement procedure to address the herniated disc in his neck while the club prefers neck fusion surgery. The meeting ended without a solution to the situation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only solution at this point is for the Sabres to trade Eichel to a club that will approve his disc replacement surgery.
TVA SPORTS: Eichel also journeyed to Montreal yesterday, creating speculation on social media that he’d been traded to the Canadiens. The real reason is to attend the BioSteelSports camp. His participation will be off-ice.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens had kicked tires on Eichel earlier in the offseason to gauge the Sabres’ asking price. Conjecture linking the Sabres star to the Habs increased last week after he changed agents and intensified over the weekend after the Carolina Hurricanes signed Montreal center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.
If the Canadiens don’t match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet they’ll get the Hurricanes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Some observers suggest they could package those picks with their own first-rounder plus a prospect for Eichel.
However, they’ll probably have to include a salaried player or two to comfortably fit Eichel’s $10 million annual average value within the constraints of their cap payroll. The Sabres could absorb part of Eichel’s cap hit but I doubt they’ll agree to do so. They’ll want him completely off their books.
That’s also taking into account putting Shea Weber and Paul Byron ($11.257 million in combined AAV) on long-term injury reserve. Weber could be out for the season but Byron is expected to return from offseason hip surgery in January.
TSN: Speaking of Kotkaniemi, Darren Dreger reports some close to the young center predicted in early July he’d played his final game with the Canadiens after being scratched from a Stanley Cup Final game.
TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie said sources told him the Kotkaniemi offer sheet was the brainchild of Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and wasn’t GM Don Waddell’s idea.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain the reports claiming the Hurricanes attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and then gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going the offer-sheet route. The Canadiens have seven days from the date the offer sheet was signed (Aug. 28) to match.
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports sources suggest an agreement is close between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and International Olympic Committee allowing NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. A decision could be announced next week.
NEW YORK POST: The latest chapter in Evander Kane’s turbulent summer sees him being granted a temporary restraining order against his estranged wife Anna. The San Jose Sharks winger accused her of hitting him on four different occasions and swinging around their infant daughter during a heated argument. The couple is currently going through a divorce. Kane is also under investigation by the NHL after Anna accused him of throwing games for money and abandoning their child to party in Europe.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Speaking of the Sharks, fans must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend their home games this season.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHLer Brandon Prust is temporarily leaving social media after apologizing for a tweet telling a woman she should be forced into the sex trade as part of his argument against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the NHL is contemplating a Heritage Classic game between the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton, Ontario this season. The game would take place at Tim Horton’s Field, which hosts the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Filip Gustavsson to a two-year contract.