NHL Rumor Mill – November 1, 2021
A look at the potential cost for the Golden Knights to acquire Jack Eichel, plus the latest Oilers speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps cites recent rumors claiming the Vegas Golden Knights are closing in on acquiring Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres. Noting the Golden Knights have some salary-cap relief due to several long-term injury reserve designations, Krepps speculates general manager Kelly McCrimmon could spend it on the 25-year-old Sabres center.
It’s believed the Sabres’ asking price is “at least four pieces, including a first-round pick, top prospect, top-six forward, and NHL defenseman under 25-year-old old.”
Krepps suggested it could cost the Golden Knights one, maybe two first-round picks, with their 2022 first-rounder certain to go to the Sabres. Shea Theodore or Nic Hague could fit the bill as the under-25 defenseman. He took note of the Golden Knights’ recent addition of blueliner Ben Hutton and their re-signing Zach Whitecloud to a long-term extension.
Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch make sense one of the forwards, with Tuch best fitting the description for a top-six forward in the right age group. The Sabres have the cap space to afford Tuch’s $4.75 million annual average value. Smith’s status as an unrestricted free agent next summer is a detractor. The Sabres could also be eyeing promising center Peyton Krebs.
Krepps noted rumors suggesting the Golden Knights are getting competition for Eichel from the Calgary Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An Eichel trade seemed imminent entering the weekend as reports of trade discussions between the Golden Knights and Sabres heated up. A deal has yet to materialize but perhaps that will take place at some point this week.
The Golden Knights must be careful not to give up too much roster depth lest it jeopardize their playoff hopes for next spring. Max Pacioretty (LTIR) and Mark Stone (currently on injured reserve) will return to the lineup at some point this season. They’ll also have to ensure they move sufficient cap room in the deal to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit and still have enough for when Pacioretty and Tuch (assuming he’s not part of the trade) return to action.
I’ve noted the Flames’ rumored interest in Eichel but I don’t think they have the depth in tradeable assets to acquire him.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Daniel Nugent-Bowman was asked if the Edmonton Oilers will stick with their goaltending tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen for the playoffs or if general manager Ken Holland will seek a netminder before the trade deadline.
Holland says he believes in his goaltending. However, Nugent-Bowman pointed out the Oilers GM attempted to sign Jacob Markstrom in 2020 and tried to acquire Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes before the Colorado Avalanche got him. He thinks Holland could consider an upgrade.
Nugent-Bowman noted two readers mentioned the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury and the Anaheim Ducks’ John Gibson as trade options. Fleury’s in the final year of his contract with a 10-team no-trade list. It wouldn’t be surprising if he wanted to finish the season elsewhere given the mess the Blackhawks are in. Gibson is younger than Fleury, has five more seasons remaining on his contract at an annual average value of $6.4 million, plus a 10-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Bowman speculated it shouldn’t cost the Oilers much to acquire Fleury given his age (37 this month) and contract status. Gibson, on the other hand, could cost as much as four assets. The Oilers would have to move out pending UFA Koskinen to make this work. Much will depend, of course, on the performance of the current tandem, where the Oilers sit in the standings and whether they’re on the no-trade lists of Fleury and Gibson.