NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Rumors | 42 comments

Updates on Jack Eichel, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brady Tkachuk, Rasmus Dahlin, Johnny Gaudreau and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes Jack Eichel will attend Buffalo Sabres training camp but won’t pass his physical and thus won’t be cleared to play. He also believes the club will remove his captaincy.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

The 24-year-old center remains in a standoff with Sabres management regarding which medical procedure he’ll undergo for a herniated disc in his neck. Friedman heard some trade talks a couple of weeks ago but he thinks teams want to hear what the doctors say.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless a team is willing to take a chance on Eichel’s wish to undergo a disc replacement procedure (which the Sabres are against), there’s no end in sight for this impasse. One side or the other will have to bend or Eichel won’t be playing this season.

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and center Elias Pettersson and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk are the four restricted free agents to watch now.

Regarding Tkachuk, Friedman believes the Senators have talked about a long-term contract but he wonders if a short-term deal is necessary to get things done. He doesn’t think they’re far apart in dollars but the Senators’ reluctance to give bonuses could be an issue. A no-trade/no-movement clause near the end of the deal could also be a sticking point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually for Tkachuk. Signing bonuses are likely the main sticking point here as that’s money the player gets upfront each season.

It appears the Canucks face a bit of a stalemate with Hughes and Pettersson. It’s thought the club is thinking short-term but Friedman wonders if a six-year deal might be the solution here. There’s also pushback to rumors the Canucks might make a cost-cutting trade to free up salary for those two with Tyler Motte remaining sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with over $10.6 million cap space. They will get another $3.5 million if necessary by placing Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve to start the season. Motte would give them another $1.225 million if he ends up on LTIR. As I noted yesterday, I doubt they’ll get Hughes and Pettersson for less than a combined $14 million.

Friedman said the Dahlin rumors are all over the map. At first, it sounded like things were going well. However, the Sabres want a short-term deal not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because of overall frustration and an unwillingness to commit to a long-term agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin’s development in Buffalo has been hampered in part by a revolving door of coaches. A short-term deal could set the stage for a messy arbitration battle down the road.

There were teams with interest in Robert Thomas. However, Friedman thinks St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told teams he wasn’t interested in trading him.

The cone of silence has dropped on Johnny Gaudreau’s contract talks with the Calgary Flames now that training camp has started. He’s told reporters he’s not talking to them about his contract situation. Meanwhile, the club won’t be releasing any updates. The 28-year-old left winger can become an unrestricted free agent next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will only stoke speculation over his future in Calgary, especially if the club gets off to a slow start this season.

Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers aren’t done in goal. “Mike Smith will be there, but what happens around him?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much in the short term. Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock will be Smith’s backups for now. Koskinen carries that $4.5 million cap hit for this season plus a 15-team no-trade list.


  1. Edmonton Oilers aren’t done in goal.

    This organization has had an absurd amount of #1 overall picks and top 10 picks in the past 10-12 years and managed to NOT pick Spencer Knight in the 2019 draft?

    A pick that would potentially clear the goaltending woes for a decade. I say potentially but this guy is as sure a thing as there is in the draft.

    • The Oilers have 3 goalie prospects in their system. Ilya Konovalov and Olivier Rodrigue are the two promising ones. The Oilers picked Broberg, a defensemen to help fix their defence, in 2019. We have all seen when it comes to drafting goalies, especially in the first round, there is NO sure thing.

      • Kevjam,
        I didn’t mention whiffing on Vasilevkiy, who may have gotten the Oilers a SC for the reason you mentioned, there was no reason at the time to see how good he’ll be.

        I have no idea how Konovalov or Rodrigue will turnout but an overage smallish goalie passed over in three drafts and what was seen as a late second rounder don’t have the pedigree of Spencer Knight at the time or now.

        We’ll see if Knight or Broberg will become a stud on their respective teams

      • 2012 was the year the Oilers unfortunately picked Yakupov because that is who Katz wanted. There were also 18 other teams who passed on Andrei Vasilevskiy, Montreal being one of those teams. There have been more goalie busts who were drafted in the first round then there are Andrei Vasilevskiy’s.

      • Wait, that was a game tying goal in game 3 of the regular season?

      • Wait, that was a game tying goal in third game of a regular season?

        “Nailed” it!

    • Hi hm30. Can’t disagree that the Oilmen have had lots of high draft picks over the past decade and some poor choices made, but wasn’t it you who wrote in response to my claim that GMMB made some poor drafting decisions :

      “Studies have given probabilities of drafting an NHL player, not a star.

      1 to 5 is 95% chance of making it to the NHL.

      6 to 10 is 80% chance of making it to the NHL.

      11 to 20 is 65% chance of making it to the NHL.

      21 to 30 is a 50% chance of making it to the NHL.

      The first half of the second round is 30% chance of making it to the NHL.

      The second half of the second round is a 15% chance of making it to the NHL

      The probabilities fly in the face of your assertion that they should have picked and developed a “star” from the 1st round in the past decade.”

      Yikes! So which side are you on – the every GM makes mistakes side or the some GM’s are not good at drafting?

      • Habman67,

        The Oilers last 10-12 years of drafting:
        4 #1
        10 top 10

        All of the top ten picks made it to the NHL, as the probabilities showed so I don’t know what you’re trying to claim.

        Did I mention then or now that a star was or wasn’t developed or picked? Nope

        I did ask how could they not have taken Spencer Knight in 2019, a goalie who was considered to be a sure thing leading up to the draft that would fill a long time need.

      • Knight wasn’t considered a sure thing. The whole thing about Knight going into that draft was potentially a number 1 goalie.
        The Oilers at that time were working on improving their defence. Which is why they selected Broberg with their first pick.
        If you look at all of the top goalies in the NHL right now there are more that were selected outside of the first round than in the first round.
        Ilya Konovalov the Oilers selected in the 3rd round in the 2019 draft and has looked really in the last couple years in the KHL.
        Olivier Rodrigue was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft.
        The book is still out on Knight. 3 regular season starts, plus another game where he came in in the third period, and 2 playoff starts with half of those games he had a save percentage below .900 doesn’t prove that he is a NHL number 1 goalie, let alone a star goalie.

      • Kevjam,

        Spencer Knight is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American goalies for the 2019 Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22.

        “He reminds me of Carey Price with how very calm and poised he is,” said Al Jensen, who evaluates goalie prospects for NHL Central Scouting. “He just has that presence in the net like a veteran. I remember watching Carey his underage year, and the way [Knight] plays and his development at this stage is where I see him.”

        Central Scouting saw Knight as a sure thing.

        When you have a positional weakness for decades and a potential stud at that position is right there, you grab it and if it doesn’t work out at least you gave it your best shot.

        As I said before:

        We’ll see if Knight or Broberg will become a stud on their respective teams.

      • I’m not arguing his draft ranking, I’m arguing that right now he still isn’t a for sure thing to make it in the NHL. That comparison to Price is he mental scouting report not his talent scouting report.
        Say that the Oilers did draft Knight in 2019. How would he help the team out this coming season? This was posted below by Ray Bark.
        “Just for perspective here are EDM’s rankings in SV% the last 2 years.
        20/21- 8th top 25% in the NHL
        19/20 – 14 – Slightly better than average.”
        Knight didn’t do anything last season in his 6 NHL games that says he’s NHL number 1 goalie ready. Smith is old, but proven. Knight is young and unproven. IMO I will take proven everytime.
        Look at the other teams that passed on Knight with goalie issues. Colorado, Detroit, Buffalo, Minnesota, LA (Quick is getting old and has injury issues), and New Jersey.
        The Oilers scouts could have also been thinking that by passing on Knight and taking Broberg and Ilya Konovalov will give the Oilers a stronger defence and yet a future starter in the same draft. Konovalov may not be a star goalie that Knight MIGHT turn into, but could turn into a really good starter.
        Like I said earlier, drafting goalies is still tough.

    • Although Broberg is a very good d-man,there is not near the value there of selecting a franchise goaltender.I also was very surprised when they passed on Trevor Zegras to draft Broberg.Either there is a major problem with scouting in Edmonton for many years or top brass or ownership are making the final decisions and not letting scouts do their jobs properly.It just seems to be one mistake after another.

  2. All ELC contracts should be offered bridges. Kaprizov and Thomas got theirs. 4 big ones to go. Reference point
    I predict Eichel misses the year unless is traded to a playoff team and gets some games in during the spring.

  3. Korpisalo for Koskinen straight up. Problem solved.

    • I still see Korpi as a strong fit in EDM. Seravelli reported about CBJ-EDM talks this summer and w/ McDavid’s public proclamation “the time is now to win” & Elvis signed long-term the time may be ripe to revisit. However, IMHO EDM would need to add assets of value (picks and/or prospects) to a Korpi-Kosinen deal but this deal could easily be a win-win for both teams

      • With KevJam on this one.
        Just for perspective here are EDM’s rankings in SV% the last 2 years.
        20/21- 8th top 25% in the NHL
        19/20 – 14 – Slightly better than average.
        (CLB is way worse)

        Ya, Smith is old and ya Koskinen is an expensive average backup on last years #’s.
        He was better than Smith in 19/20 other way around last year.

        Do the Oilers have a tender problem? Smith is old that is the risk, but agree that Korpisalo isn’t an upgrade. Koskinen had a hot year once as well. Would save EDM some $ though.

    • Why is everyone so high on Korpisalo? Looking at his numbers there is nothing special about him. IMO there will be some good goalies available at this years trade deadline. Fleury being one of them if/when the Blackhawks are out of the playoffs.

      • Forgot to add that Mikko Koskinen had better numbers than Korpisalo last season. I don’t understand all the hype on this guy.

  4. I have watched virtually every game Korpisalo has played in the AHL & NHL. I agree his overall numbers are largely pedestrian but I contend that is driven by the long-term role as back-up to Bob in his prime and the 1a-1b rotation last year (behind an abysmal team). Korpi thrives when he plays consistently as a #1. See 2015-16 when he took over when Bob was injured, and 2019-20 when he was the consistent started and had an all-star year and stellar playoff bubble performance. He is entering his prime, inexpensive and can be re-signed at a reasonable AAV. Bottom line if a team plans to use him in a platoon situation he won’t be as successful. However, if he is given consistent starts as a #1 I think the fan base of whereever he ends up will be pleasantly surprised with how good he really is. My 2 cents.

    • I think he his average at best . The numbers don’t lie . Plus going away from Torts defence system to help keep Linnne we should see those numbers drop I would think. Just my thoughts

  5. Well, everyone checks in today for medicals etc. and things get underway in earnest tomorrow … and no signing announcement on Brady Tkachuk. Boy, was I was off the mark there!

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Dorion handles this one over the next week.

      • Kevjam, I, for one, won’t lose any sleep over it if he’s a sign-and-trade. With the young talent in their system – and what they’d get in return – it would have to be a good roster player along the lines of a Hertl (+) – it probably won’t get them a Tkachuk-type player, but onwards and upwards. That’s the way the pragmatic fan will see it.

        Unfortunately, all the pom-pom waving rah-rah, sweater-wearing, worshipping, put-them-on-pedestal types (whose money is as good as anyone’s I admit) won’t like it one bit – and you just KNOW they’re going to be pointing fingers at Melnyk.

      • And, Kevjam, Calgary will need to deal with same approach next season when Matthew becomes an RFA with arbitration rights – and their need to qualify him at $9 mil! Is he worth that?

      • Personally I don’t think that Tkachuk is worth $9 million. The problem is, IF the Flames don’t qualify Tkachuk then he becomes a FA and lose him for nothing… Hello St. Louis!
        Or they can start negotiating a new contract starting in January I believe. If he’s struggling under Sutter, or just doesn’t like Sutter, why would he do that when he knows he will be able to get more money when he needs to be qualified for $9 million or becomes a FA.
        IMO Treliving gave Tkachuk all the bargaining chips.

  6. George….I think US guys will incrementally want to drive themselves home….combo of reasons….it is the reason Matthews gave the Leafs only one added year….I am sure there will be some exceptions….but I think it is a trend in it’s infancy….teams I feel need to consider more when making draft decisions…

    • Well, as I also said before Old Blue Dig, Dorion doesn’t have a lot of patience with that approach to negotiations and it would neither shock me nor disappoint me to see him signed to a 3/4 year bridge … and then dealt.

      And he could find himself on the way to a team in even earlier stages of a rebuild south of the border. Like San Jose or Arizona.

      • And the thing is, all we see so far is media speculation as to what the hold-up is – the desire for a short-term bridge deal over the club’s wish for an 8-year contract – when NM/NT clauses would kick in – the actual amount per year ($8 mil vs $8.5) – the demand for bonus money up front.

        Hell, maybe some sort of combination of all above. Bottom line is, neither the team nor the Tkachuk camp is leaking any details whatsoever.

    • OBD,
      I know that its a common refrain that Matthews will head to Arizona for his next contract, I don’t think so.

      In my opinion that idea is a construct of Toronto media who then keep it in play.

      If he really wanted to leave he could have waited till after July 1 to get an offer sheet from Chayka at the time instead of signing his 5 year extension.

      The goal of a player is to win the Stanley Cup and while the TML haven’t succeeded it isn’t for the lack of willingness to spend the money.

      There are a few hotbeds of hockey in North America and Toronto is one of them while Phoenix is not.

      Enjoy having one of the top NHL players on your team.

      • With flaw with that thought is that the Leafs would have the choice to match the offer sheet. Considering the contract the Leafs gave Matthews, do you really think the the Coyotes could have come up with a number that the Leafs wouldn’t have matched?

      • Mathews did what I feel all nhl players should do. He didn’t get a choice to pick his place of employment… he is obligated to spend his early twenties employed in Toronto ( btw I enjoy that town as much as I can enjoy and major metro area). He now can chose to pick his employer. Maybe it’s back home. Maybe someplace else. I’m convinced it will be Pittsburgh.

      • Thinking it will be Boston Chrisms.

        Some US guys want to head back to their home country. Same with some CDN guys.

        No idea on Matthews. TOR needs to find that guy a sweet local gal with deep roots in town.

  7. The longer this goes, the less it’s about Melnyk being cheap. I’ll give you that.

    Startin to look a little greedy if you ask me….trade his ass. We got more stuff comin in the pipe.

    • That’s starting to become my position too, Dark G. See how he likes spending the next 3/4 years on the outside looking in in San Jose or Phoenix before he gets another crack at RFA status.

  8. Keith played the same hand as a player for the Jets and ended up in St.Louis

  9. Dahlin bridge.Reasonable rate
    3 majors to go

  10. Still wondering:

    Possibly Brady Tkachuk to the Blues for something like Tarasenko, Kyrou, and Kostin??

    Solves the Blues cap concerns.


    • That would be doing him a favor. Nuts to that.

    • Well if you are gonna trade Brady, LA looks like a fit IMO.
      I would want a quality young C in return if I am OTT and LA has a few, and just signed Danault.
      OTT would have to take some $ back – Dustin Brown makes the most sense but has a 7 team no trade list to submit.
      Take Byfield and Brown who is over paid. Add a decent, not great, prospect to Tkachuk package?
      LA still has Turcotte, Vilardi and you could add Madden into the mix for young C’s after Danault and Kopitar.

      Byfield has a little more upside, Tkachuk more proven. Both should be very good players.

      Too much, not enough, fair?

      • Sorry Ray, almost always agree with your takes but not this time. No way am I giving up Byfield for Tkachuk.

        Potential number 1 Cs with that blend of size, speed and raw talent is a rarity. Not trading that for a winger with grit.

  11. Regarding something from yesterday,
    Finnish newspaper is saying Sami Niku didn’t see eye to eye with Paul Maurice and asked for his release.