NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2021
Could a change of agents help Jack Eichel get traded sooner? Could the Bruins or Canadiens become a destination for the Sabres captain? Which head coaches could be on the hot seat this season? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wonders what Jack Eichel’s decision to change agents could mean for the Bruins if they want to trade for the Buffalo Sabres captain. He said the Bruins are among several clubs with an interest in the 24-year-old center. Trade discussions were expected to intensify, with a source telling Murphy that there’s a hope of getting this done within the next couple of weeks.
Eichel’s new agent is Pat Brisson, who also represents high-profile stars such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Patrick Kane. He could be hoping Brisson’s cozy relationship with several NHL general managers could prove helpful in the trade market.
Murphy feels that might not help the Bruins as GM Don Sweeney had a good rapport with Eichel’s former agents. Brisson has a close relationship with Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and Eichel was linked to the Habs at one point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out soon enough if Brisson can succeed where his predecessors failed in finding a suitable trade for Eichel. Maybe he can convince Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to reduce his asking price of four assets comparable to first-round picks.
Any club acquiring Eichel will have to wait for his season debut because he’s still dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. Whatever procedure he undergoes to address that issue will determine how long he’s out of action. Disc replacement surgery would apparently sideline him for several weeks while fusion surgery could keep him on the shelf for months. His $10 million annual cap hit for the next five seasons is also a sticking point.
The question is whether this trade is worth doing. Eichel is very talented when healthy but he’s now facing a procedure that could keep him out of the lineup for perhaps most of this season. There’s also the risk he might not regain his high-scoring form once he returns to play.
The Canadiens could acquire Eichel if they’re prepared to ship out around $10 million annually in the deal to accommodate his hefty contract. They’re currently over $2.2 million into long-term injury reserve territory assuming Shea Weber goes on LTIR as expected. They also have restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to sign.
Adams could ask for at least two good young roster players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov or Kotkaniemi as part of the return. Promising blueliner Kaiden Guhle could also be part of the asking price.
As for the Bruins, they only have $1.089 million in cap space. Landing Eichel means moving out significant cap dollars to free up sufficient space for Eichel’s contract. Maybe Sweeney can convince the Sabres to pick up some of his salary but that seems unlikely. The Bruins also don’t have a Suzuki or Caufield in their lineup to tempt the Sabres and they’re not that deep in tradeable young assets within their system.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau recently looked at five NHL head coaches on the hot seat for the coming season.
The Calgary Flames hired Darryl Sutter midway through last season. The club is at a crossroads right now. If they stumble out of the gate, perhaps general manager Brad Treliving seeks another replacement to save his job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Treliving is going to sink or swim with Sutter. A poor start could cost the GM his job before he even has a chance to consider another coaching change.
Travis Green recently signed a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks. However, some general managers have no problem firing a coach with term remaining on his contract. The Canucks must quickly show progress or fans will call for Green’s firing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a decisive year for Green and GM Jim Benning. Canucks ownership have been very patient with Benning but that could run out if they’re not a contender this season.
The Chicago Blackhawks made a series of changes this offseason, which include the acquisitions of Marc-Andre Fleury and Seth Jones. Jeremy Colliton’s job could be in jeopardy if the Blackhawks fail to improve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So could Stan Bowman’s job as general manager, especially given the club’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a former video coach a decade ago.
Jeff Blashill has been coach of the Detroit Red Wings for six seasons. A lack of improvement this season could cost him his job. Meanwhile, San Jose Sharks bench boss Bob Boughner could also get the ax if GM Doug Wilson decides to shake up his mediocre roster.