Check out the latest on Johnny Gaudreau and Claude Giroux plus Brian Burke addresses the Penguins’ offseason goalie trade speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported on the lack of a contract extension thus far for Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau. He said it wasn’t for lack of trying as both sides talked numerous times during the offseason.
Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).
Gaudreau has publicly stated he wants to sign past this season with the Flames. LeBrun still believes that’s the case and hasn’t found any evidence to suggest the Gaudreau camp has cut contract talks. He felt the two sides will continue discussions but will keep them out of the public eye.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect Gaudreau’s name to surface in trade rumors if he’s still unsigned when the calendar flips to January 2022. We’ll likely hear a lot more about him as the March 21 trade deadline approaches of the Flames are out of playoff contention.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Owen Krepps recently reported Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke addressed offseason rumors that his club was shopping for another starting goalie. He said it would be false to say they never looked at another netminder but it wasn’t a priority and not something they went looking for. Burke also shot down offseason rumors linking the Penguins to Marc-Andre Fleury after he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke believes Penguins starter Tristan Jarry will have a big bounce-back season after his disappointing performance in last spring’s playoffs. If he doesn’t, however, the Penguins could start seriously seeking help between the pipes before the trade deadline.
Philly reporter Al Morganti (@nufced) on @SiriusXMNHL on the possibility of Claude Giroux moving this season: “The only place I could see him willingly go to would be Ottawa.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: By willingly, Morganti is referring to Giroux waiving his no-movement clause to accept a trade to Ottawa. That’s assuming he’s willing to go and the Senators want him. He’s not going anywhere as long as the Flyers are a playoff contender.
The latest on Jack Eichel, the Islanders could be in the market for a defenseman this season, the Blackhawks could try to shed salary and an update on Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ESPN: Emily Kaplan last night reported there was “serious optimism” last Thursday that a Jack Eichel trade was imminent but things fell quiet. She said there are five teams still interested in the Buffalo Sabres center that can fit his $10 million annual average value within their salary-cap payrolls.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
“Maybe that means moving some contracts or whatever,” said Kaplan. She also said those teams have agreed to allow Eichel to have the disc replacement surgery he seeks.
The preferred option is he’s traded, gets the procedure done and returns to action in three-to-four months. The other, which nobody wants, is he files a grievance but he might not have a case because of the CBA.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication from Kaplan as to who those five clubs might be. As per Cap Friendly, teams with lots of cap space and sufficient assets in prospects and promising young talent to acquire Eichel could include the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators. The Arizona Coyotes could also be a fit if they shed a bit of salary. Those clubs could use an established first-line center but that doesn’t mean they’re all in the hunt for Eichel.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the Ducks could be one of the destinations for Eichel, as they could make do with his absence from the lineup during his recovery. He also thinks the St. Louis Blues could be lurking though they want to be a contender this year.
The Calgary Flames did their due diligence on Eichel this summer. LeBrun also suggested the San Jose Sharks as he wondered what could happen with winger Evander Kane. If Kane ends up coming off their books they would suddenly have $7 million in cap space.
LeBrun points out pulling off an Eichel trade remains tricky based on the conditions that would be tied to his health following his surgery. His long recovery would also be another complicating factor.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $12.9 million in cap space, the Ducks are best-suited of the clubs mentioned by LeBrun to absorb his full contract. They also have depth in promising young players and prospects to draw upon for trade bait though I doubt they’ll want to part with Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Mason McTavish.
The Blues are already in LTIR country and aren’t a fit unless they can move Vladimir Tarasenko and his $7.5 million cap hit. The Flames are pressed against the $81.5 million cap so it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out to pull that off. That might mean moving Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan or Matthew Tkachuk to the Sabres or another club in a separate deal to make the dollars fit.
If Kane ends up suspended by the league as a result of one or both investigations he’s currently under it might be grounds for the Sharks to terminate his contract. I don’t see how they can trade him given his off-ice issues. Otherwise, they’re also not a fit for Eichel.
THE ATHLETIC: Earlier this week, Arthur Staple speculated the New York Islanders’ decision not to sign Erik Gustafsson suggests general manager Lou Lamoriello could prefer waiting until later in the season to invest assets in acquiring a defenseman. He believed Lamoriello looked into the status of Anaheim Ducks blueliner Hampus Lindholm, who’s an unrestricted free agent next summer. He might’ve also inquired about Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple published this before Ekholm signed his contract extension with the Predators, taking him out of this season’s trade market. He also noted the Isles have their first-round pick in next year’s draft and not much else to offer up as trade bait. However, he felt Lamoriello’s “willing to throw in for help” while the Isles might be best positioned to win the Stanley Cup this season.
DAILY FACEOFF’s Frank Seravalli took to Twitter yesterday reporting the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Andrew Shaw’s contract. He’s on permanent LTIR with an annual average value of $3.9 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: PuckPedia explained trading Shaw’s contract would allow the Blackhawks to become salary-cap compliant once sidelined Caleb Jones returns to action. It would also allow them to accrue cap space later in the season plus save some cash.
Good interest in Vitali Kravtsov. I’m told he’s willing to play in the AHL with another NHL club and would consider a 1 year agreement around his qualifying offer for next season. However, the NYR are expecting the potential of top 6 talent in return via trade.
An update on Vladimir Tarasenko, the Bruins could be close to re-signing Charlie McAvoy, Blackhawks GM addresses the Dylan Strome trade speculation, and more on Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli advises keeping an eye on Vladimir Tarasenko’s start with the St. Louis Blues. While both sides are playing nice and saying the right things, the 29-year-old winger “still strongly desires a trade”, said Seravalli.
St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).
Tarasenko has let it be known he’s fully recovered from the surgeries on his right shoulder. Whether he can regain his 30-goal form is another matter. He’s signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million. If he gets off to a hot start, Seravalli believes a trade could materialize.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Asked about the possibility of the Anaheim Ducks acquiring Tarasenko, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens cited the winger’s health and contract as significant sticking points. He also pointed out the Blues won’t be moving him for pennies on the dollar. Those issues are likely shared by general managers with a potential interest in the winger’s services but leery about making the investment.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins president Cam Neely suggested a new contract for Charlie McAvoy could be in the works. He said management has been working closely with the 23-year-old defenseman’s representatives in recent days. He’s hopeful of a new deal “in short order”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Haggerty believes it’ll be a long-term deal comparable to those in the $9 million per season range signed this summer by several top young defensemen. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it’ll be an eight-year contract with a hefty salary though not one in double-digits. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun cautions nothing is imminent as there’s still some work to be done by both sides.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Charlie Roumeliotis reports Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman attempted to downplay trade rumors swirling about Dylan Strome. He struggled to find a regular spot among their forward lines and was a healthy scratch for their season-opening loss last night to the Colorado Avalanche. Roumeliotis believes it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blackhawks try to give the 24-year-old center a fresh start with another club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistency and injuries hampered Strome over the past two seasons. He’s proved he can play well when skating alongside talented wingers. Perhaps a club seeking depth at center will take a chance on him. He signed through this season with an annual average value of $3 million.
THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reported a source informed him Vitali Kravtsov’s demotion by the New York Rangers to their AHL affiliate in Hartford had nothing to do with him being waiver-exempt. Instead, it was based on his mediocre performance during training camp, the lower-body injury that cost him part of camp and preseason play, and the belief of GM Chris Drury and head coach Gerard Gallant that the winger needed more developmental time.
Kravtsov has been suspended by the Rangers for his unwillingness to report to the minors and his agent has been given permission to speak to other clubs about a trade. Carpiniello also indicated the young winger at times butted heads with Drury during 2019-20 in Hartford.
NOTABLE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports no change in the contract impasse between the Ottawa Senators and left winger Brady Tkachuk. They still want a seven- or eight-year contract while Tkachuk wants a bridge deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer this goes on the more concern will be raised about Tkachuk’s long-term future in Ottawa. He’s already played three seasons and a three-year bridge deal brings him to within one year of his UFA eligibility. I can understand the Senators’ rationale to avoid that scenario. However, a long standoff could cause irreparable harm to his relationship with management and send him out the door much sooner than the Senators prefer.
Friedman believes the New York Rangers’ re-signing Mika Zibanejad takes them out of the Jack Eichel trade market unless the Buffalo Sabres or a third party is willing to retain salary. “New York can’t do it at $10M”, referring to Eichel’s annual average value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or the Rangers shed $10 million to make room for Eichel’s full cap hit, which also seems unlikely.
The Philadelphia Flyers informed Travis Konecny at the end of last season they could’ve easily traded him as there was lots of interest in the winger. However, they didn’t want to do it because they felt he’s too important and too good to give up on. Konecny rewarded that faith by showing up fit and ready to go for the coming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher fired a shot across Konecny’s bow. He’s a terrific player but was inconsistent and seemed distracted at times during last season. If he’s put those issues behind him the Flyers will be thankful they stayed patient with him.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Chicago Blackhawks have a surplus of centers and there’s a good chance Dylan Strome could be traded within the next week or two. He said there are some teams “kicking tires” on the 24-year-old center.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also believes Strome could be a trade candidate. “Head coach Jeremy Colliton is talking about him as a fourth-liner, and that’s not a place he will thrive.”
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks aren’t facing pressure to move Strome. However, they’re actively listening to offers and considering their options.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Rangers have given Vitali Kravtsov’s agent permission to talk to other clubs about a trade. He claims there’s “definitely interest” in the 21-year-old winger, who was selected ninth overall by the Rangers in 2018.
TSN: Chris Johnston suggested there is precedent for the acquisition cost, pointing out the Rangers shipped former first-rounder Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings last fall for the 60th overall pick (second round) in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Some more Jack Eichel speculation plus the latest on the Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported Jack Eichel remains adamant about undergoing artificial disc replacement. While the procedure has never been done on an NHL player, some teams are warming to the idea if they can acquire him from the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
Those interested clubs, however, are insisting on having a conditional aspect tied to any trade based on Eichel’s recovery and health. He’d be sidelined for four months with no guarantee he’ll be fully fixed up. The Sabres will thus have to alter their trade demands. General manager Kevyn Adams acknowledged an Eichel deal would have to come with conditions likely tied to games played, etc.
LeBrun believes the Minnesota Wild are out of the Eichel market because it would take moving a lot of cap space to absorb the center’s $10 million annual average value. He doesn’t see the Philadelphia Flyers getting involved based on their offseason moves. The Los Angeles Kings also don’t seem to be that involved.
The Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks did their due diligence and LeBrun believes they’re still in it to some degree. The Ducks make the most sense as they’re rebuilding with youth but he wondered how much it would cost them to acquire Eichel. He also believes there are other suitors yet to be identified.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also didn’t see the New York Rangers pursuing Eichel. He made that assessment before the Blueshirts re-signed Mika Zibanejad, a move that should take them out of the market for the Sabres center.
It appears the teams with the best chance of acquiring Eichel are those with plenty of salary cap space, as well as promising trade bait such as extra draft picks and/or prospects and young NHL players.
The Ducks would fall into that category and would make the most sense. However, the asking price could be Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale and I don’t see them parting with either guy.
The Ottawa Senators would be a prime candidate but who knows if cantankerous Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would sign off on this. The Columbus Blue Jackets have lacked a true first-line center for years and also possess the assets to swing a deal. The same goes for the Arizona Coyotes but they might not be keen to take on that big salary.
I’m skeptical that the Flames can land Eichel. Cap Friendly shows them with just $300K in projected cap space entering this season so they’ll have to dump a lot of salary to take on his contract. Some will suggest offering Johnny Gaudreau given his UFA status next summer or Sean Monahan with a year left on his contract. However, their respective no-trade clauses could prevent a trade with the Sabres. Let’s not forget the Sabres would want assurances of signing either guy which they likely won’t get.
NEW YORK POST: Mark W. Sanchez reports Rangers general manager Chris Drury is attempting to trade defenseman Libor Hajek. They’re carrying him on the roster for now rather than risk another club plucking him off waivers. The chance of moving him within the next couple of days appears minimal.
Fox could be eyeing a deal comparable to the $9 million AAV Cale Makar signed this summer with the Colorado Avalanche. Promising winger Kaapo Kakko is also slated for RFA status next summer.
NEW YORK POST: Before the Zibanejad signing, Larry Brooks was skeptical of the Rangers acquiring Eichel. On Oct. 9, he suggested the only way the Blueshirts could afford Eichel and Zibanejad was if the Buffalo Sabres absorbed 40 to 50 percent of the 24-year-old center’s $10 million annual cap hit.
Brooks dismissed the likelihood of Sabres owner Terry Pegula agreeing to that. He believed Pegula would prefer shipping Eichel anywhere else but the Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers aren’t acquiring Jack Eichel unless Zibanejad’s new contract is part of some elaborate “sign-and-trade” deal by general manager Chris Drury. Otherwise, they’ll have to shed $10 million in cap space to fit Eichel’s cap hit within their payroll. Doing that would weaken their depth.
Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $62 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with Fox, Kakko, Alexandar Georgiev and Ryan Strome among their notable free agents. Fox and Kakko are coming off their entry-level contracts and lack arbitration rights. Georgiev has arbitration rights while Strome is a UFA.
I don’t see the Rangers taking the hard-line with Fox. He’ll get at least $9 million, maybe more after winning the Norris Trophy last season. That will push the Rangers’ cap payroll to over $71 million with $11 million remaining for the others. They can likely afford most of them but it could be expensive to find a suitable replacement for Strome if he hits the open market.
OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes Senators GM Pierre Dorion will take a close look at the waiver wire to see if he can add another center with Colin White on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He could also go the trade route for help, perhaps by targeting a cap-strapped club.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks don’t have to worry about losing Alex Nylander through waivers. He’d been previously designated as waiver-eligible but Cap Friendly now indicates he’s exempt because he was sidelined throughout last season. He still needs another pro season or 53 NHL games to be waiver-eligible.