NHL Rumor Mill – July 3, 2021
Are the Blackhawks and Flames interested in Jack Eichel? Will Duncan Keith be traded to the Oilers? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.
COULD EICHEL LAND WITH THE BLACKHAWKS OR FLAMES?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports a source said the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t planning to get into the bidding for Jack Eichel. They cited the fact the club already has two $10-million players on the roster (Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) and don’t see how they can have a third.
Powers said the Blackhawks are already preparing to pay Alex DeBrincat between $8 million and $9 million on his next contract. He has two years left on his current contract. He also advised not to put much stock into any trade scenario involving DeBrincat or Kirby Dach as they’re among the club’s untouchables.
CALGARY SUN: Wes Gilbertson mused over whether the Flames could pursue a deal for Eichel. He speculates general manager Brad Treliving could be interested in the 24-year-old Sabres captain so long as there aren’t any long-term concerns regarding his neck injury.
The Flames lack a high first-round pick or an obvious stud prospect. Gilbertson thinks the Sabres asking price could start with wingers Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane plus a promising player and more.
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis recently dismissed the notion of the Flames acquiring Eichel, calling it little more than a pipe dream. He doesn’t believe they have sufficient tradeable assets to make a successful bid. He also expressed concern over Eichel’s big contract and the uncertainty regarding his neck injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if Treliving or Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman contacted their counterpart in Buffalo to inquire about Eichel’s availability and the asking price. Unless Sabres GM Kevyn Adams gets desperate and lowers his asking price, don’t expect to see Eichel in a Blackhawks or Sabres jersey anytime soon.
LATEST ON KEITH AND THE OILERS
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports Duncan Keith was the one who initiated discussions with the Chicago Blackhawks about a potential trade this summer. A team source said the veteran defenseman wants to be closer to his son in Penticton, BC.
The question is whether a team will take on the 37-year-old’s $5.538 million annual cap hit over the next two seasons. A league source thought the Edmonton Oilers could be a destination, citing their need for a defenseman and their asset to make a deal.
Powers colleague Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports the Oilers are thought to be among Keith’s preferred destinations. A team source indicated the interest is mutual but only at the right price and circumstances.
The Oilers want the Blackhawks to absorb part of Keith’s cap hit or take back a bad contract (such as James Neal, Zack Kassian or Mikko Koskinen) in the deal. They also don’t expect the Hawks to just give him away because he’s a legacy player. The Oilers don’t view Keith as a top-pairing defenseman but that’s not an issue because they have Darnell Nurse as their top left-hand blueliner.
Hanging over this is uncertainty over Oscar Klefbom’s status following shoulder surgery in March. Nugent-Bowman feels the writing’s on the wall here because Klefbom’s agent said they probably couldn’t provide any clarity until the fall.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited Oilers insider Bob Stauffer saying he’s heard the Blackhawks don’t want to take salary back on Keith as they’re hoping to use the savings to put toward acquiring Columbus’ Seth Jones or Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Oilers want to maintain cap flexibility in any trade for Keith. He also said there are whispers the Blackhawks would like to acquire Oilers blueliner Caleb Jones in hopes of reuniting him with Seth. He wondered if it would make sense for the Blackhawks to acquire a player from the Oilers in a Keith trade that they can buy out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers may be interested in Keith but they’re not under any pressure to make this move. If they can’t make a deal work they can just walk away and seek more affordable blueline options elsewhere.
The Blackhawks will have to retain part of Keith’s contract or take back a contract they can buy out to make the dollars fit here. Maybe they can acquire a contract from the Oilers and flip it to another team for a draft pick or prospect.