NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021
A look at the teams that could afford to acquire Jack Eichel plus the latest on the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.
NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines which teams can actually afford to trade for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. That means being able to absorb his $10 million annual average value for the next five seasons and possess sufficient young assets to meet the Sabres’ asking price.
The New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks top Gretz’s list. While the Kings have less cap space following the acquisitions of Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault, Gretz feels that’s never stopped a team from dealing for a player it badly wants.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz points out the Rangers have some short-term raises coming up for Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad but feels they should have sufficient flexibility to make it work. However, Shesterkin is projected to come in at around $5.75 million, Zibanejad could cost $9 million and Fox could hit $10 million annually after winning the Norris Trophy last season. One of them would have to move in a cost-cutting deal for Eichel and it would probably be Zibanejad, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.
The Kings have just over $2.8 million in cap space after taking on Arvidsson, Danault and defenseman Alex Edler. If they were serious about Eichel I don’t think they would’ve added those three. They’re probably out of the Eichel sweepstakes.
The Ducks appear the best fit but that depends on whether general manager Bob Murray sees Eichel as a key piece in the club’s rebuild. The ongoing concern over the center’s herniated disc in his neck could also be an issue for the Ducks and the other clubs linked to him.
Gretz believes trading Eichel to either the Vegas Golden Knights or Minnesota Wild would make sense as both teams need a No. 1 center. However, it would take some work to pull off a deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres’ asking price from the Golden Knights was said to be winger Reilly Smith, promising center Peyton Krebs, young defenseman Nicolas Hague and a first-round pick. The Sabres would also have to pick up half of Eichel’s cap hit to make this work.
Gretz points out the Wild’s cap constraints for 2022-23 and 2023-24 from the recent buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter could make it difficult to take on Eichel’s full cap hit. Wild GM Bill Guerin is also said to be reluctant to part with most of his club’s top young prospects.
The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators are Gretz’s wild-card teams. Eichel to the Bruins could be a good fit but they lack cap space and depth in tradeable assets. The latter point is also an issue for the Predators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks seem to think Eichel to the Bruins is doable. I’ve yet to see anyone come up with a realistic trade scenario that would address the cap issue or the lack of good young assets necessary to meet the Sabres’ asking price.
The Predators, meanwhile, have $16 million tied up in centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. Unless they can find a way to get one of those players off their books, I doubt we’ll see Eichel suiting up with Nashville.
LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman quashing a rumor linking Sharks winger Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils. “Those were flatly denied to me,” said Friedman. “Someone said you’re way off, don’t go down that road.” Peng cited sources saying other clubs aren’t enamored with Meier’s contract. He’s got two years remaining on his deal with an annual average value of $6 million.
Peng also noted Friedman indicated the Sharks are believed to have an interest in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old Arizona Coyotes center has four years left on his contract worth $4.45 million annually. However, Friedman doesn’t believe the Sharks are engaged in trade talks with the Coyotes. He also linked the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers among those interested in Dvorak.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Sharks GM Doug Wilson believes Meier can regain the 30-goal, 66-point form of 2018-19. As for Dvorak, the rebuilding Coyotes will likely want draft picks plus a quality prospect or a young NHL-ready player in return.