NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 23, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Morgan Rielly, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Brady Tkachuk and Eric Staal in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports it’s difficult to pinpoint a timeline when the Buffalo Sabres could trade Jack Eichel. His new agent, Pat Brisson is on good terms with Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and there are ongoing discussions between the two.

Eichel and the Sabres remain at an impasse over which medical procedure he’ll undergo to repair the herniated disc in his neck. It’s possible Eichel gets traded to a club willing to allow him to undergo the disc replacement surgery he favors but there’s no guarantee and no sign a trade is close.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As they say in the Army: “SITREP: no change.” This will probably drag on for months and perhaps cost Eichel the entire season until a suitable trade partner is found. Even then, his $10 million annual cap hit over the next five seasons plus the Sabres’ expensive asking price could make any interested club leery of taking that gamble.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (NHL Images)

Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs and Morgan Rielly’s camp quietly engaged in preliminary contract discussions over the summer. LeBrun doubts anything will be settled quickly. A lot of it has to do with what next summer’s market will be for unrestricted free-agent defensemen after Dougie Hamilton, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Darnell Nurse all got deals this summer worth $9 million-plus per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun speculates Rielly negotiations could drag on into next June. They could eventually reach a point where they decide to shelf those talks until the offseason. I think Rielly and his representatives saw those hefty offseason signings and believe they can get the same.

Some Leafs fans are still calling for Rielly to get traded if he doesn’t re-sign this season. I don’t see that happening unless the Leafs are out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline.

Dreger believes it’s all about the term and less about money in the Vancouver Canucks’ negotiations with restricted free agent defenseman Quinn Hughes. With training camp underway and Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin and Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov under contract, Hughes and teammate Elias Pettersson are hoping to find common ground soon with Canucks management.

Negotiations are also ongoing between the Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk. Dreger feels the main hurdles here are structure and protection. He wonders if a shorter-term deal might become an option if talks drag closer to the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No real change here from reports earlier in the week. Nevertheless, they could be signed at any time. We began this week with six notable RFAs and are now down to those three.

LeBrun reports unrestricted free agent center Eric Staal is committed to playing another NHL season but has yet to find a new club. His preference is to find a good fit with an American club.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 22, 2021

Updates on Jack Eichel, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Brady Tkachuk, Rasmus Dahlin, Johnny Gaudreau and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “32 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman believes Jack Eichel will attend Buffalo Sabres training camp but won’t pass his physical and thus won’t be cleared to play. He also believes the club will remove his captaincy.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

The 24-year-old center remains in a standoff with Sabres management regarding which medical procedure he’ll undergo for a herniated disc in his neck. Friedman heard some trade talks a couple of weeks ago but he thinks teams want to hear what the doctors say.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless a team is willing to take a chance on Eichel’s wish to undergo a disc replacement procedure (which the Sabres are against), there’s no end in sight for this impasse. One side or the other will have to bend or Eichel won’t be playing this season.

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and center Elias Pettersson and Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk are the four restricted free agents to watch now.

Regarding Tkachuk, Friedman believes the Senators have talked about a long-term contract but he wonders if a short-term deal is necessary to get things done. He doesn’t think they’re far apart in dollars but the Senators’ reluctance to give bonuses could be an issue. A no-trade/no-movement clause near the end of the deal could also be a sticking point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports out of Ottawa claim the Senators tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually for Tkachuk. Signing bonuses are likely the main sticking point here as that’s money the player gets upfront each season.

It appears the Canucks face a bit of a stalemate with Hughes and Pettersson. It’s thought the club is thinking short-term but Friedman wonders if a six-year deal might be the solution here. There’s also pushback to rumors the Canucks might make a cost-cutting trade to free up salary for those two with Tyler Motte remaining sidelined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with over $10.6 million cap space. They will get another $3.5 million if necessary by placing Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve to start the season. Motte would give them another $1.225 million if he ends up on LTIR. As I noted yesterday, I doubt they’ll get Hughes and Pettersson for less than a combined $14 million.

Friedman said the Dahlin rumors are all over the map. At first, it sounded like things were going well. However, the Sabres want a short-term deal not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because of overall frustration and an unwillingness to commit to a long-term agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dahlin’s development in Buffalo has been hampered in part by a revolving door of coaches. A short-term deal could set the stage for a messy arbitration battle down the road.

There were teams with interest in Robert Thomas. However, Friedman thinks St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told teams he wasn’t interested in trading him.

The cone of silence has dropped on Johnny Gaudreau’s contract talks with the Calgary Flames now that training camp has started. He’s told reporters he’s not talking to them about his contract situation. Meanwhile, the club won’t be releasing any updates. The 28-year-old left winger can become an unrestricted free agent next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will only stoke speculation over his future in Calgary, especially if the club gets off to a slow start this season.

Friedman believes the Edmonton Oilers aren’t done in goal. “Mike Smith will be there, but what happens around him?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not much in the short term. Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock will be Smith’s backups for now. Koskinen carries that $4.5 million cap hit for this season plus a 15-team no-trade list.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 21, 2021

Updates on the notable unsigned restricted free agents as training camps approach in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, Ottawa Senators left winger Brady Tkachuk and Minnesota Wild right winger Kirill Kaprizov are among the notable restricted free agents still without contracts as training camps open later this week. Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlen and St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas are also among those without contracts.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

  THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Canucks fans probably won’t see Pettersson and Hughes when training camp begins on Thursday in Abbotsford, BC. General manager Jim Benning maintains they’re continuing to have good dialogue and hopes to get something done sooner rather than later. Kuzma wonders if bridge deals for the young stars might be palatable for both parties.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal cited sources in Pettersson’s camp saying the young center has departed Vancouver and flown to Michigan to be with Hughes. Both are close friends and represented by agents Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. They will remain in Michigan preparing for the upcoming season while awaiting a resolution in negotiations.

It’s expected the Canucks will sign Pettersson first because Hughes isn’t eligible to receive an offer sheet. While the threat of an offer sheet is remote the club doesn’t want to take any chances. Of the two, Hughes could be the more likely to ink a long-term deal. The Canucks have up to $16 million in cap space if necessary to sign both but would ideally prefer $14.5 – $15 million.

There’s also speculation whatever Kaprizov gets with the Minnesota Wild will affect how much Pettersson receives from the Canucks. However, that’s considered remote within the industry. The Wild face a unique salary-cap crunch in the near term so inking Kaprizov to a bridge deal has little benefit for them.

The comparables for Pettersson could be the bridge deals signed by Tampa Lightning center Brayden Point ($6.75 million annual average value) and the New York Islanders Mathew Barzal ($7 million AAV).

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the lines of communication remain open between the Senators and Tkachuk but the two sides remain at a stalemate. While things can change with one phone call, it’s expected the Senators will open training camp tomorrow without the 22-year-old left winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of these players could be under contract by tomorrow morning. Then again, negotiations could drag on through the opening days of their respective camps.

The Canucks probably won’t get Pettersson and Hughes under contract for less than a combined $14 million. Pettersson could come in at $7.5 million and Hughes close to $7 million. By the sound of things, Pettersson could end up with a bridge deal.

It’s been reported the Senators have an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually on the table for Tkachuk. Maybe his representatives are pushing for $9 million or perhaps they seek a shorter term in hope of cashing in on a more lucrative deal in three or four years’ time.

Kaprizov will miss the opening week of training camp. Even if signed today, he would reportedly face a seven-day quarantine period before joining his Wild teammates. His side wants a short-term deal in order to qualify for UFA status as soon as possible while the Wild prefer between five and eight years. It’s believed he’ll eventually get a five-year deal worth an annual average value of $9 million.

Not much to report on Dahlin and Thomas. Talks are said to be ongoing between the Sabres and the 21-year-old blueliner but no word on possible contract terms. Thomas, meanwhile, took part in the Blues’ development camp sessions last week. He’s said to be seeking more than teammate Jordan Kyrou’s $2.8 million AAV on a two-year deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 17, 2021

The latest on Brady Tkachuk, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Morgan Rielly in today’s NHL rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Brady Tkachuk has yet to join his Senators teammates in Ottawa in preparation for the start of training camp on Sep. 22. He’s still back home in St. Louis as his agent and Senators management continues to work on a new contract for the 22-year-old left wing.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Garrioch cited TSN’s Gord Miller recently saying he felt a deal between the two sides could come quickly. It’s believed the Senators offered up an eight-year deal worth an annual average value of $8 million. The two sides could fall back to a three-year deal if a long-term agreement cannot be hammered out in time.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma took note of the apparent lack of progress in contract talks between the Vancouver Canucks and young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. He feels the negotiation pressure point of missing the start of training camp next Thursday could adversely affect their regular-season performance.

Kuzma also speculates the Canucks could be forced to shed some salary if Pettersson and Hughes each pocked $8 million annually on their new deals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the start of training camp fast approaching, most of the focus in the rumor mill will be on the contract talks of notable restricted free agents such as Tkachuk, Pettersson, Hughes and the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov.

Plenty of time remains for those players to be signed before their respective training camps open but the clock is ticking. It may be more pressing for the Wild and Kaprizov, as the latter reportedly requires a work visa and would have to spend a week self-isolating from his teammates once he arrives in Minnesota.

Cap Friendly shows the Canucks with a projected $10.6 million in cap space. Signing Pettersson and Hughes would push them over the cap. If necessary, they can get an additional $3.5 million in cap relief by placing sidelined winger Micheal Ferland (post-concussion symptoms) on long-term injury reserve. As Kuzma points out, however, they would have to free up more room depending on what their combined cap hit turns out to be.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the Maple Leafs shouldn’t trade Morgan Rielly this season. He acknowledged the 27-year-old defenseman is due for a big raise next summer. However, he feels they shouldn’t move their annual leader in ice time unless they’re certain of getting equal or greater value in return. “And that’s not going to happen,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koshan was responding to recent reports speculating over Rielly’s future with the Leafs because of his unrestricted free agent status next summer and the club’s limited cap space.

I daresay management has no intention of moving him this season unless they’re well out of playoff contention by the March trade deadline. That’s assuming, of course, they have no desire to re-sign him or he plans to test the market in July.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Brady Tkachuk, Elias Pettersson, Phil Kessel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In a recent roundup of notable hockey news, Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres had an “introductory meeting” with Jack Eichel’s new representatives. Thus far, however, no indication of any resolution in the 24-year-old center’s impasse with the team. Friedman believes the club revisited discussions with interested teams to see where they stand.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The issues probably remain the same for those clubs. They’re unlikely to pay the Sabres’ hefty asking price for a talented but expensive player who’s yet to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

The Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk’s representatives are still working on a long-term deal believed comparable to teammate Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $8 million per season contract. Both sides hope to have a deal in place before training camp opens later this month.

Friedman feels the Vancouver Canucks have made more progress in contract talks with Quinn Hughes than with Elias Pettersson. He wonders if Pettersson might be waiting to see what Minnesota Wild winger Kiril Kaprizov gets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could end up digging deep to pay Pettersson. Kaprizov reportedly could get $9 million annually on a five-year deal from the Wild.

Sources say Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ilya Mikheyev asked to be traded following last season but the club doesn’t want to accommodate his request. The departures of Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton mean the Leafs envision a bigger role for Mikheyev this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Playing time was apparently the issue for Mikheyev. He should get much more of that this season, providing him a terrific opportunity to prove his worth to the Leafs.

Friedman rejected rumors suggesting the Arizona Coyotes could trade defenseman Jakob Chychrun. However, he thinks veteran winger Phil Kessel could draw a lot of attention if he has a hot start to this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan observed, the Coyotes see the 23-year-old Chychrun as a player they can build around. Kessel, on the other hand, becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and no longer has a future in Arizona. While the Coyotes only carry $6.8 million of his $8 million AAV, it could still be difficult to find takers for that cap hit.

A couple of teams are awaiting Tyler Bozak’s decision on where he’ll play this season. Friedman wonders if the 35-year-old center might land in Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the shelf to start the season.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas scuttled rumors linking his club to New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban. “I can definitively say that we have not thought a single thing about any player that is going to be a free agent a year from now,” said Dubas.

Koshan also reports Dubas did give some thought to trading one of his core players during the offseason. However, it didn’t sound like much serious thought was given to that idea.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban’s $9 million annual average value and the decline in his performance in recent years make him difficult to move right now.

I don’t doubt Dubas and the Leafs’ brain trust gave some thought to shake up their core but it was apparent during their season-ending press conference that they want to keep that group intact for this season. That could change next summer, however, if the Leafs fail again to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Dubas might not even be part of that decision as another early postseason exit could cost him his job.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2021

Some suggested moves for the Sharks, the latest Senators speculation, and the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the San Jose Sharks should consider some trades as one way to reverse their declining fortunes. He feels they should consider all options with the exception of potential impact prospects such as William Eklund.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

That includes considering offers for Tomas Hertl. An unrestricted free agent next summer, the 28-year-old center would be expensive to re-sign. O’Brien suggests selling high on Hertl. His three-team trade list would make that difficult but he might not want to linger in this bad situation for a full season.

O’Brien also suggests shopping Timo Meier. His inconsistent play over the past couple of years could affect his trade value but the 24-year-old winger is better than he looks, maybe a lot better.

Moving expensive veterans like Evander Kane, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Erik Karlsson would be harder to do. Nevertheless, O’Brien feels they should consider it if an opportunity arises to trade one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl is the most likely Sharks trade candidate this season. Despite his limited trade clause, there would be considerable interest in him. He would likely widen his trade destinations for an opportunity to skate on a contender.

The only real concern is his injury history. The Sharks might prefer waiting until the March trade deadline when his value could be at its highest but that comes with the risk that he could be sidelined again by that point.

Meier’s struggles will affect his trade value but that would improve with a bounce-back performance this season. On the other hand, that could also make the Sharks keen to retain him.

Kane’s off-ice antics and his growing reputation as locker room poison make him untradeable. Vlasic’s decline and his $7 million annual average value through 2025-26 makes the 34-year-old defenseman a tough sell even if he were willing to waive his no-movement clause. Karlsson’s injury woes over the past several years, his no-movement clause and $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 ensures he’ll be a Shark for a long time.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators remain focused on signing Brady Tkachuk to a long-term contract extension. There’s unconfirmed speculation they’ve tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually to the 21-year-old winger.

There’s also a rumor the Tkachuk camp seeks a short-term extension but no one knows where that’s coming from. He’s not sharing his contract status with teammates or friends. Despite reports to the contrary, negotiations are still going well.

The Senators might deal with Logan Brown’s situation before training camp opens. The 23-year-old center didn’t sign his qualifying offer and there’s talk he could head to Europe if he’s not traded. He’s eligible for waivers this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of time remains for the Senators to sign Tkachuk and sort out Brown’s situation before training camp opens.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan denied a recent rumor floated on Twitter claiming Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun was on the trade block. “This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Coyotes,” writes Morgan. “They want to build around (Chychrun).”

The Coyotes have to find a replacement at center for Christian Dvorak following his trade to Montreal last weekend. They also need to add a goaltender and a defenseman.

Morgan believes general manager Bill Armstrong could look to the waiver wire. Several teams in tough situations might end up exposing players they would otherwise prefer to keep.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong spent this summer shipping out veterans for draft picks and prospects as he commenced his rebuild of the Coyotes’ roster. It’ll be interesting to see how he plugs those gaps in his lineup for the coming season. Waivers are one option but he could also go the trade route, perhaps by using some of those picks or prospects as bait. Perhaps he gives the Senators a call about Logan Brown.