NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 18, 2021

The latest Jack Eichel speculation and a look at possible goalie trade candidates this season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked which club makes the most sense for the Buffalo Sabres to trade Jack Eichel to get the best return.

Assuming Eichel eventually gets healthy and returns to form, Duhatschek feels it’ll take a team willing to make a bold move in order for the Sabres to get full value for him. He rules out the Los Angeles Kings as too conservative and unwilling to part with prospect Quinton Byfield. Also ruled out are the Boston Bruins as there doesn’t appear to be a fit in salary or the player/draft choice combination heading the other way.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Duhatschek feels the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jarmo Kekalainen and the Minnesota Wild’s Bill Guerin are two general managers with the courage to wade into an Eichel deal. Both clubs need a genuine No. 1 center. He also considers the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks as long shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Never say never with the Kings but I agree with Duhatschek’s take. Anze Kopitar is still their first-line center and the signing of Phillip Danault suggests they’re buying time until Byfield and Alex Turcotte are ready to join the roster on a full-time basis.

The Bruins certainly could use hometown boy Eichel but there just isn’t a fit there unless GM Don Sweeney gets very creative by bringing in a third team to pull off the swap. He could instead set his sights on a more affordable short-term option such as San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

I’ve also suggested the Blue Jackets as a destination. They have over $10 million in cap space, carry potentially two first-round picks in next year’s draft and have some promising players in their system (Cole Sillinger, Yegor Chinakhov, Liam Foudy) that could tempt the Sabres. Kekalainen has made bold moves in the past but I’m not sure he’s willing to pursue a big fish like Eichel.

The Wild’s cap space will shrink considerably once winger Kirill Kaprizov is under contract unless Guerin pulls a swerve and becomes willing to part with the young winger in a package for the Sabres’ center. While the Wild need a bonafide first-line center, I don’t think they’ll pursue Eichel.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving reportedly looked into an Eichel swap but it doesn’t appear things got too far. Unless Treliving intends on a dramatic roster shake-up this season I don’t see Calgary as a serious bidder. The Ducks have lots of cap space and promising youngsters such as Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale but GM Bob Murray probably won’t part with those guys.

Duhatschek was also asked which goaltenders could surface in the trade rumor mill by the Olympic break in February. He points out the Dallas Stars’ depth between the pipes could make them the first place to call, especially if Ben Bishop returns from knee surgery. He doesn’t see Jake Oettinger getting moved as he’s their future starter but Braden Holtby could be an affordable option.

Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo could also get moved. He and Elvis Merzlikins are unrestricted free agents next summer but Merzlikins is the better goalie. Others could include Detroit’s Thomas Greiss, Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Stars’ goalie situation shakes out. The uncertainty over Bishop’s career is why they brought in Holtby. They could go with him and Anton Khudobin as their tandem to start the season and send Oettinger down to the minors as he’s waiver-exempt. They could also put Khudobin on the trade block.

It’s expected the Blue Jackets will retain Merzlikins and move Korpisalo by the March trade deadline. It was assumed Korpisalo would get shopped this summer but that plan was shelved by the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks in July.

Greiss and Koskinen are UFAs this summer and could become rental players at the deadline. Quick, however, has another season on his contract with an annual average value of $5.8 million. Given his age (35) and injury history, there might not be many takers for him.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2021

Carey Price provides an update on his recovery from knee surgery, the Coyotes and Hurricanes add to their respective management teams, the latest PTO signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Carey Price said he has yet to skate since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on July 22. The 34-year-old Canadiens goaltender said he “feels pretty good” and is continuing his rehab to ensure he’s ready for the coming season.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Price’s original timeline for recovery was 10-12 weeks. It was expected he’d be ready for the start of the season on Oct. 13. “With any type of rehabilitation, you’re never quite sure how long it’s going to take,” he said. The Habs star indicated he could be skating soon but wants to be sure he’s ready.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always, the Canadiens’ playoff hopes rest with Price. They’ll ensure he takes all the time he needs to be fully recovered and ready to go for this season. Fortunately, they’ve got a capable backup in Jake Allen to carry the load in the early going until Price’s return.

Speaking of the Canadiens, the club yesterday announced it is launching a Respect and Consent Action Plan aimed at raising awareness with its employees and the public of the consequences of sexual cyberviolence. This comes in the wake of the backlash the club faced for selecting prospect Logan Mailloux in the first round of this year’s draft. Mailloux was fined by Swedish authorities in December after admitting to charges related to sharing a photo engaged in a sexual act with him without her consent while playing in Sweden last season.

Genevieve Paquette, the Canadiens’ vice-president of community engagement and the club’s foundation general manager, said Mailloux is learning and receiving therapy from the team in a “very serious and engaged way.” A member of the London Knights, he is currently suspended by the OHL but can apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1. He was not invited to the Canadiens’ rookie camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Sportsnet’s Eric Engels observed, this is a positive step forward for the Canadiens as they continue to do damage control following the selection of the Mailloux. The club is also continuing to work with the 18-year-old defenseman to assist in his development. Paquette and the Habs director of player development Rob Ramage expressed confidence he’s on the right path toward what Ramage called “his journey of education and awareness” stemming from the incident in Sweden.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes named John Ferguson Jr as their assistant general manager and GM of their AHL affiliate in Tucson. He spent the past seven seasons with the Boston Bruins as their Executive Director of Player Personnel and as GM of their AHL affiliate in Providence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferguson Jr tends to get some flak from critics over his difficult tenure as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2003-04 to 2007-08. By all accounts, however, he did a good job with the Bruins and as a pro scout before that for several years with the San Jose Sharks. He should be a good hire for the rebuilding Coyotes.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes hired Michael Futa as a senior consultant to general manager Don Waddell. Futa was previously in the Los Angeles Kings organization from 2007 to 2020, including a stint as their assistant GM. He played a key role in building that club into a two-time (2012, 2014) Stanley Cup champion.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed winger Colton Sceviour to a professional tryout off.

YARDBARKER: Winger Tobias Rieder got a PTO with the Anaheim Ducks.

CAP FRIENDLY: Left wing Scott Wilson signed a PTO with the Seattle Kraken.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights signed defenseman Dylan Coghlan to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

TSN: The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) rejected a request from an advocacy think tank to suspend Stan Bowman from his role as general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team while he faces allegations of helping to cover up the sexual abuse of two Chicago Blackhawks players over a decade ago.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 7, 2021

Did the Canadiens make a mistake acquiring Christian Dvorak? Should the Oilers attempt to acquire Ducks goalie John Gibson? Could the Senators trade Logan Brown? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE CANADIENS HAVE PURSUED EICHEL INSTEAD OF DVORAK?

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski believes the Montreal Canadiens made the wrong choice acquiring Christian Dvorak to replace Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He points out the 25-year-old center hasn’t cracked the 40-point barrier in his five NHL seasons, adding some believe he lacks the necessary work ethic.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Kingerski feels the Canadiens should’ve instead attempted to acquire Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres. That move would’ve cost them the better of their two first-round picks but would’ve established themselves with a premier center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were among the clubs to inquire about Eichel earlier in the offseason. However, Sabres GM Kevyn Adams’ asking price is said to be at least four assets comparable to first-round picks and he reportedly hasn’t come down from that.

The Canadiens weren’t in a solid position to acquire Eichel. It would’ve probably cost them both of their first-round picks next season, along with Nick Suzuki or Cole Caufield, one of their top prospects and possibly more. Factor in the difficulty of squeezing Eichel’s $10 million cap hit within their limited cap payroll and acquiring him was far too expensive for the Habs.

SHOULD THE OILERS TRY TO LAND GIBSON?

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Daniel Nugent-Bowman was asked about the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers acquiring John Gibson from the Anaheim Ducks. He doubts that’s likely to happen, citing his annual salary-cap hit ($6.4 million through 2026-17) and 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stranger things have happened but I don’t see Gibson ending up with the Oilers. The Ducks have given no indication Gibson’s available and he hasn’t requested a trade. The Oilers might not be on his list of acceptable trade destinations and it would be difficult to squeeze his contract within their salary-cap payroll.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 26, 2021

Could the Ducks end up moving players like John Gibson and Josh Manson this season? Could the Senators seek another center? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked about the speculation linking the Anaheim Ducks to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. He believes Ducks general manager Bob Murray had some level of talks with the Sabres but doubts he would part with Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale as part of the return. The Sabres asking price of four top assets for an injured player is another obstacle. Waiting could drive that price down.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s ongoing issues with the Sabres over treatment for a herniated disc in his neck and his hefty contract are also significant sticking points in any trade discussions. Murray would be wise not to part with Zegras or Drysdale if he’s planning to rebuild.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Stephens believes Ducks goaltender John Gibson has been frustrated by the club’s lack of progress over the past three seasons. It’s impossible to know, however, if Gibson will request a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson would draw plenty of interest in the trade market if he did ask to be moved or if Murray decided to shop him for a return of young assets. The 28-year-old’s contract could be a stumbling block. His annual average salary is $6.4 million through 2026-27 and he now has a 10-team no-trade list.

Stephens believes the Ducks have fielded offers for Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Adam Henrique or attempted to move some of them. A deal that would’ve sent Manson to the Winnipeg Jets was reportedly scuttled by Manson, who has a 12-team no-trade list. It’s believed teams were offering a first-round pick or a top prospect for Manson or Rakell, but the Ducks want both pieces.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on Manson, Lindholm and Rakell this season. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. The trio could draw plenty of attention as the trade deadline approaches. Manson is the only one of the three with no-trade protection.

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger believes the Ottawa Senators still need some veteran depth at center for the coming season. The departures of Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan leave the club thin at center. Promising Shane Pinto could help but he’d be another young center on the roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Senators are believed to be in the market for a top-six winger or another center in order to move another forward to the wing. He mentioned New York Rangers center Ryan Strome and Chicago Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome as possible trade targets but dismissed internet rumors linking the Sens to San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 24, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel and Kirill Kaprizov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, John Vogl was asked if the Buffalo Sabres would set a more realistic asking price to move Jack Eichel. He said there doesn’t appear to have been many negotiations during this saga. The Sabres have set their price but no one has met it over the past four months.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Despite Kevyn Adams claiming otherwise, Vogl believes the Sabres general manager knows he can’t bring Eichel back. With no other clubs willing to meet his asking price, Adams could be forced to lower it a little.

Vogl believes it will be harder for Adams to trade Eichel having failed to do so before the 2021 NHL Draft and the start of the free-agent market on July 28. “Teams that had assets and cap space don’t have them anymore,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sabres attempt to move Eichel before the start of training camp next month. The problem, of course, remains the ongoing impasse between the young center and Sabres doctors over which surgical procedure he should undergo for the herniated disc in his neck. He wants disc replacement surgery while the team doctors prefer a fusion procedure.

The longer Eichel goes without treatment the more playing time he’ll miss in the upcoming season. The few teams believed to still have an interest in him (Anaheim Ducks? New York Rangers? Vegas Golden Knights? Columbus Blue Jackets?) could be reluctant to pursue a trade if he’s not ready to play.

That could change if Adams lowers his asking price. It’s rumored he seeks four assets comparable to four first-round picks. If he maintains that price I doubt Eichel will be going anywhere this season.

THE SCORE: cites The Athletic’s Michael Russo yesterday tweeting it doesn’t appear a new contract is imminent between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov. However, there’s been increased discussions between the two sides. He also indicated KHL club CSKA Moscow has publicly stated Kaprizov won’t be playing for them this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for that one-year, eight-figure deal Kaprizov’s camp was reportedly trying to use as leverage in their talks with the Wild.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 22, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – August 22, 2021

Could the Ducks attempt to acquire Jack Eichel and Vladimir Tarasenko? Could the Flyers shed some salary before the start of this season? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked about the rumor linking the Anaheim Ducks to Jack Eichel. While Ducks management hasn’t publicly talked about the Buffalo Sabres center, they haven’t squelched the speculation.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Stephens felt any trade for Eichel could take place during the season after the 24-year-old center returns to the ice and proves he can still play at an elite level. A healthy Eichel would fit into the Ducks rebuilding plan.

Asked about the possibility of acquiring Eichel and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasensko, Stephens pointed out their combined cap hit is $17.5 million. That move would mean trading away salaried players. Tarasenko’s history of shoulder surgeries would also be a concern.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Ducks with over $14 million in projected cap space. They have room for one or the other but not both.

I believe the Ducks are among the serious suitors for Eichel. They can afford to take on his full cap hit, they possess depth in young assets to use as trade bait and could use a young superstar like Eichel to rebuild around.

However, I don’t see general manager Bob Murray pulling the trigger until he’s got assurances Eichel is 100 percent in health and performance. As Stephens suggested, interested clubs could prefer to see him play this season before making serious offers to the Sabres.

As for Tarasenko, I doubt Murray would be interested in the Blues winger. Apart from his injury history, he turns 30 in December and is only signed through 2022-23. The Ducks GM wants assets that fit into his club’s long-term future.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall observed the Flyers will be right up against the salary cap when this season opens following their signing of Travis Sanheim to a two-year deal. He believes they’ll have different ways to become cap compliant before the start of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have around $281K in projected cap space with 22 players under contract for the coming season. That doesn’t leave much room for other roster moves that might become necessary, especially if short-term injuries start sidelining some players.

They could demote waiver-exempt players such as Morgan Frost or Tanner Laczynski but it would leave them short another roster player. It could also get complicated if they play well enough in training camp and preseason to secure a full-time roster spot.

Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher was very busy wheeling and dealing in this summer’s trade market. Perhaps he’ll have another move in store to clear some additional cap space.