NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2021

The fallout from the Rangers re-signing Mika Zibanejad plus the latest on the Senators and Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien considers the New York Rangers out of the Jack Eichel trade market with their signing of Mika Zibanejad yesterday to an eight-year extension worth $8.5 million per season.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (NHL Images).

O’Brien suggests the Rangers do have some salary-cap challenges ahead. 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becomes a restricted free agent next summer. In addition to Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider, Igor Shesterkin and Barclay Goodrow take up a considerable chunk of their salary-cap payroll for 2022-23.

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.