NHL Rumor Mill – November 8, 2021
Could the Avalanche shop a defenseman for a scorer? What the latest on the Senators? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers believes the strong performance by rookie defenseman Bowen Byram might explain why the Colorado Avalanche were among the suitors for Jack Eichel before the Buffalo Sabres traded the 25-year-old center to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Chambers took note of Eichel telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman following his trade that at one point he thought he might be going to the Avalanche. He also speculated the Avs likely would’ve offered up defenseman Samuel Girard plus a top prospect or two and draft picks for Eichel but the Sabres likely would’ve wanted more.
Girard, 23, carries a $5 million annual salary-cap hit through 2026-27. Byram’s early-season play plus Devon Toews’ return from offseason shoulder surgery could’ve made it possible to dangle Girard in a package deal for Eichel. Chambers believes he’s still expendable if the Avs seek an elite forward or goaltender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girard also surfaced in the rumor mill earlier this year, Chambers and a couple of his Denver Post sportswriting colleagues suggested he could become an offseason trade candidate following the Avalanche’s disappointing second-round exit from the 2021 playoffs.
Despite trading away Ryan Graves last summer, the Avalanche still possesses a deep defense corps. If Byram continues to blossom, general manager Joe Sakic could consider using Girard as a trade chip to add a second-line scorer before the March 21 trade deadline. He lacks no-trade protection and could interest teams in need of a skillful young puck-moving blueliner.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Ian Mendes was asked why the Ottawa Senators sent promising defenseman Erik Brannstrom to their AHL affiliate to start the season. He felt it was done because he was waiver-exempt and they needed to move a body.
Mendes believes Brannstrom is frustrated and that could be why he changed agents. His sense of the situation is the young blueliner hasn’t requested a trade and he doesn’t think the Senators are shopping him. His guess is Brannstrom will either be playing with the Senators following the trade deadline or he’ll be dealt away. This is his last season with waiver-exempt status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mendes felt the Senators need to know what they’ve got in Brannstrom or risk losing him to waivers next fall. He believes they want to give him a legitimate shot on their roster. Still, it could be worth monitoring Brannstrom’s situation.