Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 26, 2021

by | Sep 26, 2021 | Rumors | 21 comments

Check out the latest on Mika Zibanejad plus some Dallas Stars speculation in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker recently reports Mika Zibanejad isn’t giving anything away about his contract extension talks with the Rangers or allowing it to get in the way of his preseason preparation. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (NHL Images).

Walker speculates Zibanejad could be in line for a seven- or eight-year extension. It’s believed his camp’s initial ask is $10 million annually while Rangers management will likely look at something in the $7 million to $9 million range.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello wondered if Rangers general manager Chris Drury will play a game of chicken with Zibanejad if he can’t get him signed before the March trade deadline. There’s also the Rangers’ unstated wish to upgrade at center, including rumors of their interest in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Blueshirts can afford two high-priced centers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad told reporters he’s happy in New York and likes the team’s direction. How long he remains part of it remains to be seen.

The Rangers will either commit to a long-term deal for Zibanejad or turn to the trade market or free agency next summer to replace him. It’s as simple as that.

Carpiniello’s correct in his assessment that they cannot afford to carry two expensive centers, especially with 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becoming a restricted free agent at the same time. Talk of Zibanejad and a healthy Eichel on the Blueshirts was a pipe dream. It’s either one or the other. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks’ 10 questions facing the Dallas Stars this season included speculation over John Klingberg’s future with the club. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July after completing a seven-year contract with an annual average value of $4.25 million.

Considering how much several notable defensemen (including teammate Miro Heiskanen) received this summer, Klingberg could prove too expensive for the Stars. With Heiskanen earning $8.45 million annually, Esa Lindell making $5.8 million and Ryan Suter $3.65 million, re-signing Klingberg would give the Stars one of the most expensive bluelines in the league.

Turning to the trade deadline, DeFranks suggested players on expiring contracts like Klingberg, Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov could become trade bait if the Stars are out of playoff contention by then. If the Stars are close and they retain them past deadline day, they risk losing those players to free agency for nothing next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Stars with over $58 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23 with Klingberg, Pavelski, Radulov and Braden Holtby as their notable UFAs and forwards Denis Gurianov and 2021 Calder Trophy finalist Jason Robertson becoming restricted free agents.

Klingberg’s going to cost at least as much as Heiskanen, probably more. As DeFranks observed, they probably can’t afford to keep him. Pavelski and Radulov are aging and don’t have many productive seasons left while Holtby’s past his prime.

Gurianov has arbitration rights and will seek a substantial raise if he hits 20 goals and 40 points this season. Robertson will be coming off his entry-level contract but a strong sophomore season will result in a hefty raise for him as well.


  1. Not convinced Klingberg is in the same class as this summer’s overpayments. Good player though thats getting a raise or traded and then a raise
    Pavelski and Holtby should be easy money to remove. Clean up some cap in net . Too many goalies on the books

  2. As the season wears on we will see if the rash of overpayments made early will pay off and lead to more next year.
    Its also possible that the many affordable contracts will be seen as more practical for the GMs.

    One is top heavy.
    One is more spread out

    They have all year to see which philosophy to emulate.

  3. If Zib stays healthy AND Chytil takes the next step showing he can be a 2C the Rangers are in a good spot. If Zib gets another concussion and Chytil turns out to be 3C tops the Rangers will be making a big Eichel push

    • The way things stand now, the Rangers should focus on signing Zib and forget about Eichel, whose injury makes any deal risky. Stick with the guy who has produced in their system.

      • I agree but if zib misses half the season you cannot pay him 9mil+

  4. Like many teams Dallas has over paid on a couple of players. Seguin, and Benn are not 9.5 million dollar players. Add in the fact they have Seguin for another 6 years and Benn for another 4 years and Dallas will be spinning their wheels for the foreseeable future.

    • While certainly true enough, we also have to keep in mind that, in some cases at least, “overpaid” might not be an issue had anyone been able to foresee Covid and the flat cap.

      • True that George. Nobody saw Covid coming, you don’t plan for a global pandemic if you are an NHL GM. Government a different story.

        In fact, most expected revenues to increase substantially in 20/21, with $84M the lower end expectation. Even more this year when the new US TV deal kicked in. That is why the harsh criticism of Dubas is often unfair. What would that team look like with another $7M-8M to spend?

      • Probably still have Hyman… at 9 mil per.

      • Ha!

  5. Zib gets done regardless of Eichel interest or any other centers that may or may not be available. That 8th year matters. I see him with an AAV around 8-9m. I can see an Eichel trade only if Sabres retain something. Not out of question for them to have both. Fox will probably get a bridge deal.

  6. This is for Habfan30:

    I didn’t see this comment from you until this morning, in response to my suggestion that Eichel could just get the surgery he wants:

    “Eichel’s contract isn’t voided, in fact he’s in breach of contract and the Sabres can sue demanding payment of compensatory and punitive damages.”

    I did several search variations on this and came back with nothing on the ability of an NHL team to sue a player.

    I did find several instances of players whose contracts were cancelled (Voynov, Richards), and a suggestion that the Sharks were considering voiding Kane’s contract at one point.

    So I am interested on the authority you rely upon for your statement.

    • You are finding cases where players acted in ways that went against league and team code of conduct whom the league and team wanted to terminate, one for domestic violence, the other for cross border trafficking of oxy, both felonies.

      You are suggesting that Eichel tell the team he is having his surgery despite the team refusing to allow it and to accept it or void his contract.

      He does not have the legal authority to proceed with that.

      What authority are you relying on to say that he does?

      Breach of contract is a civil matter and any party can file a lawsuit by the laws of the State or Province involved.

      • Firstly, I thought your comment was interesting, and you stated it with such conviction I wondered whether you were relying on something I was not aware of. Hence my question about what your authority is.

        Secondly, breach of contract is a civil matter – except when the employment terms are covered by a collective agreement. Eichel, as you know, is covered by a standard player contract as approved by the NHL and the NHLPA.

        I acknowledge that I haven’t read the NHL/NHLPA player contract. Have you?

        I couldn’t properly interpret it as I am neither a lawyer; nor am I familiar with the jurisprudence between the parties, nor have I seen the bargaining notes that both parties would have to rely on. I also don’t know if there is a state or federal law that would allow the Sabres to remove any such dispute from the arbitration process that every NHL/NHLPA dispute I know of goes through.

        How about you?

        Once again, Habfan30, there is a curious mix of self declared authority in your opinion, and a bristling reply when I offer you a response.

        And once again, I am drawn to Flying V’s opinion of you. Which becomes more convincing each day.

      • I’m not saying you are wrong. But if you are right it’s scary. Eichel has at least one if not multiple medical professionals recommending a procedure that is treating a condition that is effecting him professionally but also personally. I could see the team being able to void his contract but to then sue him? They own his nhl player rights… not his body.

        Even if they did how do they prove he deliberately sought to defraud Buffalo? Would they sue the doctors that did the procedure for harming their property? What a swamp.

      • And Chrisms. at what point can they sue for damages? Surely only if the operation proved unsuccessful, not merely at the point of having it.

        And how could the Sabres prove that any impairment of Eichel’s playing ability are the result of the operation he chose instead of the one the Sabres want? Or that it wasn’t a result of an unrelated incident upon his return to play?

      • Dunno. Doubt the Sabres have a good legal leg to stand on.

      • LJ

        You obviously think you have come up with a solution to the Eichel situation and are unhappy with my critique of it, which you are entitled.

        I suggest you contact Pat Brisson at CAA and give him your solution.

    • Byfuglien would be a comparable, had ankle surgery without team knowledge, eventually contract was terminated.

      • Well, one thing’s for sure … should Eichel decide to go ahead with the surgery it won’t be without Buffalo’s knowledge … everyone and his uncle will be aware of it.

  7. Would Eichel’s insurance policy be predicated on the team doctors diagnosis and treatment plan?