NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2021
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes it could take some time, perhaps until the March trade deadline, for the Buffalo Sabres to move Jack Eichel and the St. Louis Blues to deal away Vladimir Tarasenko.
One reason is roughly half the teams in the league have less than $1 million in cap space. Most of those clubs are projected to be playoff contenders and thus would have the most interest in acquiring Tarasenko, who’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million. He thinks the likelihood of the Blues winger waiving his no-trade clause for a rebuilding team is slim.
Given Eichel’s hefty contract ($10 million AAV for five seasons), the market is likely to include non-contenders with the cap space and depth in prospects and draft picks to meet the Sabres’ expensive asking price.
With term remaining on Eichel’s and Tarasenko’s respective contracts, the Sabres and Blues aren’t facing pressure to move them before this season’s trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best opportunity to move either player was prior to the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. After that round was completed on July 23, the chances of trading one or both declined as teams no longer had the first-round pick the Sabres wanted as part of the return.
Any realistic chance of moving them during the offseason all but vanished after the free-agent market opened on July 28. Many of the interested clubs no longer had sufficient cap space to take on those expensive cap hits.
Health was also a factor. Eichel’s situation was well-documented. Tarasenko, meanwhile, was coming off his third shoulder surgery in two years. It’s believed some teams with interest in Tarasenko want to see how he performs this season. The same holds true for Eichel depending on which procedure he eventually gets and the length of recovery.
SPORTSNET: During his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman speculates it could take the NHL stepping in to resolve the impasse between the Sabres and Eichel over which medical procedure he’ll undergo to repair a herniated disc in his neck.
Friedman understands the NHL wants to protect the rules of the CBA, which gives teams control over the medical and health procedures of their players. Nevertheless, he feels this isn’t a good look for the league to have one of its star players being held back from playing because they can’t agree on a surgery.
He also suggested every team should see Eichel’s medical records if he agrees to it. It’s difficult to trade a player carrying a $10 million per season contract but it’s almost impossible to do so given the lack of information over his current condition.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Back in August, Friedman reported the league met with the Sabres, Eichel and his representatives, and the NHLPA in an attempt to help all sides reach an agreement but nothing was resolved. That could be the extent of the league’s involvement in this situation.
It’ll be interesting to see if the NHLPA pushes for players to have more control regarding the treatment of hockey-related injuries in the next round of collective bargaining.
Source close to Hamonic says the #Canucks defenceman would now prefer playing in a US market & the club is considering a trade. More games would be available without cross-border travel. Report is Hamonic is not vaxed. Ironic, considering his earlier career desires to move North.
— Vancouver Hockey Now (@VANhockeynow) September 28, 2021