Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, the potential cost for the Rangers to re-sign Adam Fox and the Stars’ contract talks with John Klingberg in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports one of the biggest hurdles to getting a Jack Eichel trade done is the Buffalo Sabres’ unwillingness to retain any portion of his salary. They’re willing to take back some contracts in return but it’s still difficult with the 24-year-old center having four more years with an annual average value of $10 million remaining on his contract.

Friedman believes the Colorado Avalanche made a call to see if they could make it work but the Sabres’ unwillingness to take salary stopped discussions. Jeff Marek said the Vegas Golden Knights were in conversation with the Sabres but were unwilling to part with young center Peyton Krebs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame the Sabres for not wanting to retain salary. They don’t want to carry what would likely be a significant chunk of dead cap space for the next four seasons. Maybe they might budge a bit if this issue becomes the only sticking point but I think owner Terry Pegula wants Eichel completely off his books.

I’m not sure how much salary the Avalanche would want the Sabres to absorb but it would have to be a healthy chunk given their limited cap space. They’re already using LTIR right now and have over $55.7 million invested in 12 players for 2022-23 with the cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (NHL Images).

As for the Golden Knights, Eichel would be an ideal fit there but they too don’t have much cap room and would need the Sabres to retain some salary in the deal to make it work. Their unwillingness to move Krebs also seems a deal-breaker.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox is inching closer to a massive contract extension with the New York Rangers. The current price-point for talented young defensemen when Cale Makar inked a six-year extension this summer with the Avalanche worth $9 million annually. The Boston Bruins signing Charlie McAvoy last week to an eight-year extension worth an AAV of $9.5 million will also be duly noted by the Fox camp.

After signing Mika Zibanejad to an eight-year deal, Walker believes the Rangers face some salary-cap challenges for next season. While it’s possible Fox could accept a hometown discount to ensure the club can build around him, he would also be within his rights to seek between $9.5 million and $10 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even a hometown discount of, say, $8 million will still take a big bite out of the Rangers cap payroll. I’ll be shocked if he accepted that.

Some readers here speculate he might accept a one-year contract for considerably less but I doubt he’ll go that route considering he’s coming off a season that saw him join Bobby Orr as the only sophomores in NHL history to win the Norris. He may have grown up as a big Rangers fan but they’re still going to have to pay a lot for the privilege of having him on their roster.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek said the Dallas Stars want John Klingberg to stay and the 27-year-old defenseman wants to remain with the Stars. However, his asking price could make it difficult to re-sign him. Marek reports Klingberg seeks an eight-year contract between $62 million and $66 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s an annual average value between $7.75 million and $8.25 million. It’s less than what teammate Miro Heiskanen got on his contract ($8.45 million AAV) and well below the $9 million Dougie Hamilton got as a UFA this summer from the New Jersey Devils.

Nevertheless, that could be a difficult number for the Stars to absorb. With Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter already earning a combined $17.9 million annually, Klingberg’s asking price would push that to around $25 million invested in just four defensemen.