Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 5, 2021
Could the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel? What roster needs do the Golden Knights and Jets still have to address? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
If the Rangers intend to acquire Eichel, Carpiniello believes they’ll have to trade center Mika Zibanejad now or at the March trade deadline. Zibanejad is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and will be ready to cash in on a big payday. Asked if the Rangers could re-sign Zibanejad for $8 million annually, Carpiniello felt that would be a great discount considering what comparable players are earning.
Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Rangers should include promising winger Kaapo Kakko in any deal for Eichel. One of their young defensemen and perhaps center Filip Chytil would have to be part of the return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carpiniello doesn’t seem to hold much hope for the Rangers landing Eichel, calling it a “fantasy” at one point.
Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $7.9 million in projected cap space for the coming season. They could afford to take on Eichel’s $10 million annual average value if they shipped one or two salaried players to the Sabres as part of the deal. That’s assuming the Sabres would be willing to ship him to a nearby rival. And no, I don’t see them picking up any chunk of his cap hit to help the Blueshirts.
The Rangers have considerable depth in promising prospects and young NHL talent to dangle as trade bait for Eichel. The Sabres will want some decent talent in return, and that could include a couple of players like Kakko, Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller or Vitaly Kravtsov.
Remember, the Sabres’ supposed asking price is said to be four assets comparable to first-round draft picks. That means a first-round pick in 2022, one or two top prospects and one or two promising young NHL players.
As for Zibanejad, they could afford to carry him and Eichel this season. However, it could be a tight squeeze cap-wise depending on which players they send to Buffalo in return or shed in other cost-cutting moves.
It could cost between $9 million and $10 million annually for the Rangers to re-sign Zibanejad. They can’t afford to carry him and Eichel plus the hefty raise Adam Fox will command next summer as a restricted free agent. That won’t leave enough cap room to ice a playoff contender in 2022-23. As Carpiniello suggests, Zibanejad would have to be moved soon after acquiring Eichel or at this season’s trade deadline to avoid losing him for nothing next summer.
NHL.COM: Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes the Vegas Golden Knights still need a first-line center. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said they’re happy with their depth at that position after acquiring Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden during the offseason. Promising Peyton Krebs could also crack their lineup this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Patrick and Kreb have promise but they’re not ready to fill that first-line center position. That was a significant weakness for the Golden Knights over the last two seasons and could haunt them in 2021-22. They were linked to Eichel but their limited cap space likely takes them out of the bidding unless the Sabres are willing to absorb a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to go the trade route to address that issue if it becomes a pressing need during this season. The free-agent market has been picked clean, with aging Devan Dubnyk and Curtis McElhinney still remaining. Tuukka Rask is also unsigned but everyone knows he’ll be returning to the Boston Bruins once he’s fully recovered from hip surgery in January.