NHL Rumor Mill – October 22, 2021
The latest on Jack Eichel plus updates on the Senators and Canadiens in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON EICHEL
ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Jack Eichel’s camp is meeting with the Buffalo Sabres in a final attempt to convince management to allow their client to undergo disc replacement surgery. Team doctors recommend a neck fusion procedure.
Eichel has a herniated disc in his neck and there’s an urgency to have it addressed as soon as possible. Under the collective bargaining agreement, teams have the final say on injury treatment. The 24-year-old center has been meeting with various doctors, collecting medical opinions to support his preferred procedure.
Kaplan said sources claimed as many as five teams were interested in trading for Eichel. The Sabres’ standing firm on their huge asking price amid the medical uncertainty has cooled most of the trade talk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have my doubts the Eichel camp can convince Sabres management to change its mind. Kaplan said filing a grievance could be Eichel’s last resort but it’s unlikely to succeed because the Sabres have the CBA on its side.
Eichel could be forced into a procedure he doesn’t want to continue his playing career. That could backfire on the Sabres.
There are teams right now willing to acquire Eichel (with conditions attached) and allow him to undergo his preferred procedure. The Sabres risk blowing a chance at a decent return for a player who, to be blunt, is currently damaged goods. Their hard-line could prove costly if he undergoes neck fusion and his performance suffers upon his return to action.
Whatever the outcome of this situation, you can bet the NHLPA will be pushing the league to amend the CBA to allow more flexibility for the treatment of injuries.
UPDATES ON THE SENATORS AND CANADIENS
TSN: Chris Johnston reports the Ottawa Senators want to add a center or winger to their top-nine forwards to further boost their offense. He pointed out they have 11 picks in next year’s draft to draw upon for trade bait.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch took note of Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom could become a trade chip. While he’s currently playing for their AHL affiliate in Belleville, Garrioch doesn’t believe his days with the Senators are numbered. They hope his defensive play will improve and could also use him in case injuries strike their blueline later in the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators will have to use a draft pick or two as trade bait if they’re unwilling to move Brannstrom. Cap Friendly shows them with two picks in the second round of next year’s draft plus three in the third and seventh rounds.
Pierre LeBrun poured cold water on the notion the Montreal Canadiens might be interested in Chicago Blackhawks center Dylan Strome. He said the struggling Habs aren’t shopping around for help. General manager Marc Bergevin believes the answer to the club’s woes lies from within and that message has been passed along to everyone in the organization.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could change if the losing continues in Montreal. Then again, why waste assets for a quick fix if there’s no one in the trade market who can reverse their fortunes.
Strome has had his difficulties with the Blackhawks. I don’t see him thriving under the immense pressure he’d face in Montreal.