Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 27, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 27, 2021

Should the Oilers pursue Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Zach Hyman, Jaden Schwartz or Nolan Patrick? What’s the latest on Evander Kane and Matt Dumba? Find out in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST OILERS SPECULATION

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples weighed in on a recent discussion between Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman regarding the possibility of the Oilers inquiring about Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Arizona Coyotes will attempt to move the 29-year-old defenseman during the course of this offseason.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

Stauffer believes the decline in Ekman-Larsson’s trade value could force the Coyotes to retain part of the blueliner’s $8.25 million annual cap hit in return for picks and prospects. Friedman thinks there are teams that feel Ekman-Larsson could regain his form on a new club. He speculated the Oilers kicked tires on OEL but Stauffer felt that could complicate the Oilers’ efforts to re-sign Darnell Nurse. Friedman wondered if they’d be interested if he wasn’t making $8.25 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples sees little chance of the Oilers acquiring Ekman-Larsson and I agree with him. He pointed out that the blueliner would have to approve the deal and the Coyotes would have to absorb a big chunk of his cap hit.

Staples also took note of a recent discussion on The Leafs Report podcast between Athletic writers James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel regarding Leafs pending UFA winger Zach Hyman.

Siegel feels the 29-year-old Hyman could get a six-year deal worth $6 million annually from a club like Edmonton or Ottawa. Mirtle suggested Hyman could have four more years left at his current level of player. Siegel believes he’s got two or three years left, adding that type of contract could be risky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers could get Hyman on a four-year deal for less than $5 million per season it might be worthwhile. Six years at $6 million annually is too much and too long given the eventual toll his physical style of play will take on his body.

Staples points out it’s uncertain how well Hyman would fit alongside Connor McDavid. He also reminded everyone of how quickly Milan Lucic declined after he joined the Oilers.

If the Oilers fail to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jim Matheson suggested they take a run at signing winger Jaden Schwartz should the 29-year-old winger becomes available in the UFA market. He felt Schwartz would be more affordable than Hyman or Colorado Avalanche winger Brandon Saad.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson said it’s believed Schwartz would be looking for between $5 million and $5.5 million depending on the term. He felt Oilers GM Ken Holland would give him a four-year deal.

Schwartz could be a good option for the Oilers if Nugent-Hopkins departs. However, other clubs could be willing to go another year or two longer or bump up the cap hit closer to $6 million annually.

Matheson also wondered if the Oilers would attempt to acquire center Nolan Patrick from the Philadelphia Flyers. They need a right-hand center on their bottom-six and the 22-year-old Patrick could use a change of scenery after spinning his wheels in Philadelphia.

UPDATES ON KANE AND DUMBA

SJHOCKEYNOW.COM: Sheng Peng cited Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s inclusion of Evander Kane on his list of offseason trade candidates. Seravalli reported friction between the 29-year-old Sharks winger and several teammates this season.

An NHL executive told Peng he doubted the Sharks would get much of a return for Kane. Despite his consistent production, he’s difficult to move because of the locker-room drama that’s dogged his career, his ongoing bankruptcy proceedings and hefty contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I concur with that assessment. Despite Kane’s obvious talent, he’s carrying too much baggage. I’ll be surprised if he’s playing for another club when the curtain rises for next season.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien suggests teams interested in a trade for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones should instead consider Minnesota Wild blueliner Matt Dumba. He pointed out Dumba has better underlying numbers at even strength over the last three seasons plus he’d cost considerably less to acquire in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports claiming interest in Jones is off the charts indicate no one’s taking O’Brien’s advice. Nevertheless, he makes some valid points about Jones’ performance compared to Dumba’s.

Dumba could be available if the Wild believe they cannot protect him in next month’s expansion draft. He would become a suitable “Plan B” for clubs that lose out in the Jones sweepstakes.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 23, 2021

Does Matthew Tkachuk want out of Calgary to go home to St. Louis? Could he be swapped for Vladimir Tarasenko? What players are on the Flyers’ offseason shopping list. Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

DOES TKACHUK WANT OUT OF CALGARY?

YAHOO! SPORTS: Steven Psihogias cited Sportsnet 650’s Shane O’Brien floating a rumor about Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk during a recent appearance on SiriusXM NHL Network’s “The Power Play with Steve Kouleas”.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

O’Brien claimed he heard the 23-year-old Tkachuk wants out of Calgary to play in his hometown of St. Louis. “I got (Vladimir) Tarasenko going to Calgary for Tkachuk,” he said. “I heard Tkachuk wants out of Calgary, Tarasenko’s time’s up there, I think that’s a trade that could happen.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not going to disparage O’Brien or question his sources, but this move makes no sense for the Flames. Why trade Tkachuk for a winger who’s six years older and has a recent history of shoulder surgeries? For that matter, why would Tarasenko waive his full no-trade clause to join the Flames?

Sportsnet 960’s Ryan Pinder weighed in on that rumor. “In reaching out to some folks around the (Calgary) organization, they described this rumor in two words. The first one being bull. The second one sounding a lot like shirt.”

True or not, this will only stoke speculation about Tkachuk’s future in Calgary. GM Brad Treliving indicated he’d evaluate all his options after the Flames missed this year’s playoffs. Maybe Tkachuk will be part of any significant changes Treliving has in store. If he does want to return to St. Louis, the Flames will want a good young forward like Jordan Kyrou as part of the return, not a banged-up veteran.

Tarasenko’s name popped up in the rumor mill as some observers pondered the possibility of the Blues leaving him exposed in the expansion draft. There’s been no indication they’re going to approach him about waiving his no-trade clause, but that’s usually not the type of thing a team or player makes public. It will be interesting to see if he appears again in this summer’s offseason trade talk.

FLYERS EYEING DEFENSEMEN AND GOALIES

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi reports defensemen and goaltenders are on the offseason shopping list of Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher. He points out they gave up a league-leading 3.52 goals-against per game this season.

Carchidi believes Fletcher has “a long list of defensemen” on his radar. They include Columbus’ Seth Jones, Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton, Nashville’s Ryan Ellis, Minnesota’s Matt Dumba and Edmonton’s Adam Larsson.

He could also be looking at pending free-agent goaltenders such as Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier and Tampa Bay’s Anders Nilsson for a potential 1B goalie to 1A Carter Hart.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers have been frequently linked to Jones, Hamilton and Dumba in the rumor mill. I don’t see the Predators trading Ellis unless they get a significant player in return. The Oilers, meanwhile, appear intent on re-signing Larsson.

Grubauer’s a Vezina Trophy Finalist this season. He’s no “1B” and I doubt the Avalanche will let him depart via free agency. Ullmark, Andersen and Bernier would be good options. Nilsson’s been sidelined by concussion issues since last season.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Dougie Hamilton, Patrik Laine, Rasmus Ristolainen and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman said he’s asked around to see if the Buffalo Sabres gave other clubs permission to speak with Jack Eichel but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He added the club and its captain are negotiating the next step in his recovery from a herniated disk in his neck. Sources indicate if the Sabres shop Eichel or Sam Reinhart that we shouldn’t be surprised if they end up with another high pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: In a recent mailbag segment, Lance Lysowski predicted the Sabres will grant permission for interested clubs to speak to Eichel. That will be necessary because of the treatment Eichel requires to treat his injury. If a rival club is willing to allow him to undergo the surgery he seeks and offers the right trade package, Lysowki believes the Sabres will make the deal sooner rather than later.

THE ATHLETIC/BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Fluto Shinzawa believes the Boston Bruins will pass on Eichel because of his neck injury. “A $10 million player has to be a sure thing,” he wrote. Joe Haggerty dismissed any talk of the Bruins acquiring Eichel as “fantasy stuff.”

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy wondered if the Seattle Kraken could use the prospect they select with the second-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of a package offer for Eichel. One NHL executive said he was told Kraken general manager Ron Francis checked in on the Sabres captain.

THE ATHLETIC: Rick Carpiniello reports hearing the New York Rangers are not likely, or much less likely now, to get into the bidding for Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s neck injury will determine the number of teams with interest in the Sabres captain. Some could be willing to take a chance on him having surgery on his herniated disk, a procedure that’s never been performed before on an NHL player. However, I think most general managers share Shinzawa’s opinion. If you’re going to invest assets and cap space acquiring an expensive talent like Eichel, you better be sure he’ll be 100 percent healthy.

UPDATE ON HAMILTON

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Philadelphia Flyers might not aggressively pursue Dougie Hamilton. The 27-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. The Hurricanes are allowing Hamilton to speak with other teams.

Friedman indicated the Flyers’ interests in addressing their blueline needs appear to be elsewhere, speculating they could target Columbus’ Seth Jones or Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. He also suggested the Seattle Kraken and New Jersey Devils could make sense for Hamilton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi believes it would cost the Flyers “multiple high draft picks and either Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers for starters” to acquire Hamilton, and only if they can get him to sign a long-term contract extension. He feels the Flyers would have difficulty fitting him under the cap unless Jakub Voracek headed the other way.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall speculates the Flyers could consider more affordable options if they can’t land Hamilton or Jones. He pointed out they had an interest in Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak before tumbling out of playoff contention by the trade deadline. Hall also mentioned Vegas’ Alec Martinez and Pittsburgh’s Cody Ceci as other UFA options.

MORE RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Friedman said the Florida Panthers are expected to be aggressively pursuing improvement this offseason. He’s curious if they ask the Columbus Blue Jackets about Patrik Laine. He and Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov have a good relationship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on whether the Jackets are going for a full-scale rebuild. A shake-up is probably coming after Seth Jones indicated his intent to test next summer’s free-agent market but it could be a retooling rather than a teardown.

I don’t see the Panthers being keen to take on the potential headache of Laine’s contract negotiations. It will cost $7.5 million to qualify his rights.

The Jackets could decide not to qualify him and let him depart as an unrestricted free agent. However, that would leave them with little to show for shipping Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg.

He cited Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News reporting the New Jersey Devils had an interest in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He wonders if they might also consider Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere if the Flyers included a sweetener in the deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lysowski pointed out the Devils have the assets in picks and prospects to make a bid for Ristolainen, who indicated last month he’d be open to a trade. The issue here is he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Devils could acquire him and see how next season plays out or they could insist on him signing a contract extension first.

A scout suggested to Friedman that interest in Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique could pick up following his solid play for Canada at this year’s World Championships.

Friedman doesn’t put much stock into recent rumors suggesting Jared Bednar could lose his job as Colorado Avalanche head coach. Despite the club’s disappointing playoff exit, the team still believes in Bednar.

The San Jose Sharks have given pending UFA forward Kurtis Gabriel permission to speak with other teams.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 5, 2021

Could the Oilers target a Lightning winger in this summer’s trade market? Is this season the last for Matt Dumba and Zach Parise with the Wild? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE OILERS TARGET A LIGHTNING WINGER?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples believes the Oilers’ priority should be landing a veteran winger who’ll mesh well with center Connor McDavid. That’ll take on greater importance if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins departs via free agency next month.

The Tampa Bay Lightning would be an obvious place to start because of their limited cap space and forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow are among their pending unrestricted free agents.

Could the Edmonton Oilers have interest in a Tampa Bay Lightning winger such as Alex Killorn? (NHL Images)

They could attempt to shed salary by trading a veteran forward at a bargain price. Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat or Yanni Gourde could become a trade candidate. Staples doubts Killorn will be available given his strong performance in this year’s playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $22 million in cap space (as per Cap Friendly), Oilers general manager Ken Holland should have sufficient cap room to acquire a top-six winger via trade or free agency even if he re-signs Nugent-Hopkins, Mike Smith and Adam Larsson. He could have more if he buys out James Neal and/or Mikko Koskinen and finds a trade partner to take Zack Kassian off his hands. Holland could be willing to talk trade with the Lightning depending on who they’re trying to offload this summer.

Something’s gotta give in Tampa Bay this summer. They could, as Staples suggested, buy out Tyler Johnson or hope the Seattle Kraken select him in the expansion draft. Even then, they could still trade another forward to get some additional wiggle room under the cap. That could force them to part with Palat, Gourde or Killorn.

Gourde’s full no-trade makes him the least likely of that trio to be moved. Killorn has a 16-team no-trade clause. Palat’s full no-trade becomes a modified no-trade next season in which he submits a 20-team list of preferred destinations.

Staples recently noted Oilers insider Bob Stauffer speculating the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Rangers could have interest in Kassian. Some Oilers followers could be against trading Kassian because of his physical presence. However, he’s carrying a $3.2 million annual cap hit through 2023-24. Given the decline in his offensive production, the Oilers would be better off trading him and finding a more affordable option.

LATEST ON DUMBA AND PARISE

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan recently reported questions about Matt Dumba’s future with the Minnesota Wild have increased of late with the expansion draft on the horizon. With most teams tending to protect three defensemen and three Wild blueliners (Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin) carrying no-movement clauses, Dumba could be left exposed in the expansion draft or traded beforehand.

Dumba, however, said he hopes to remain with the Wild. He said he grew accustomed to his name surfacing in the rumor mill near the trade deadline.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Muzitani recently reported Zach Parise told reporters he wants to return with the Wild next season. Because of his hefty contract, finding a trade partner seems unlikely while the front office doesn’t seem interested in going the buyout route.

Parise’s future came into question as he was dropped to the fourth line this season and was a healthy scratch late in the season and during the first three games of their seven-game series against the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Parise played well when inserted into the lineup for the final four games of that series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild could make Dumba unavailable in the expansion draft by opting to protect eight skaters. However, that puts them at risk of losing one of their good young forwards. Wild GM Bill Guerin will probably try to swing a side deal with the Seattle Kraken to ensure they don’t take Dumba if they leave him exposed. They could also try to convince Suter to waive his no-movement clause. The Kraken could be scared off by his expensive contract.

The Wild and Parise are stuck with each other until his contract expires in 2025. He’ll have to accept a lesser role with the club. As Muzitani observed, that’s something that will have to be worked out between Parise and head coach Dean Evason in the coming months.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 30, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 30, 2021

In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup: Seth Jones will reportedly test next summer’s free-agent market, the Wild face some big offseason decisions, plus some more Penguins speculation.

JONES TO TEST UFA MARKET PUTS JACKETS IN A TOUGH SPOT

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported Seth Jones recently informed the Columbus Blue Jackets of his intention to test next summer’s unrestricted free agent market. The 26-year-old defenseman has an annual average value of $5.4 million on his contract with a modified no-trade clause.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (NHL Images).

Friedman said he doesn’t want to deal in absolutes but it appears Jones will test free agency “and we’ll see how Columbus decides to handle this over the next little while.”

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Jones and his agent declined to comment. Nevertheless, this is a devasting blow for the Jackets. The blueliner would be the latest among several notable players to depart the organization in recent years via free agency or trades.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen indicated earlier this month he intended to keep Jones into next season without a contract extension in the hope the blueliner would change his mind. With John Davidson returning as team president, Portzline wonders if Kekalainen will attempt to trade Jones this summer.

Trading Jones could lead to a roster rebuild. It would also raise questions over the future of Jones’ defense partner Zach Werenski (a restricted free agent next summer) and Cam Atkinson, who turns 32 next month and might not wish to be part of a rebuild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline believes the Jackets would’ve made Jones their highest-paid player, as well as offering him the captaincy if he agreed to stay. His decision to go to market next year could signal the beginning of the end of the Jackets’ current roster.

The Jackets can’t afford to let him walk next summer for nothing. Kekalainen could wait until the trade deadline to move him but that comes with the risk of an injury to Jones or being forced to accept a lesser deal. It would also create an unnecessary distraction overshadowing their efforts to contend for a playoff spot.

Despite a decline in his performance this season, Jones remains among the NHL’s top defensemen. The Jackets won’t lack for trade partners if they decide to move him this summer, though those suitors will want assurances Jones will sign a contract extension.

If they trade Jones, they must determine Werenski’s future this summer. He has arbitration rights next summer and will be a year away from UFA eligibility. He could end up getting shopped by next summer if he doesn’t want to stick around.

Atkinson, meanwhile, is signed through 2024-25 with an annual average value of $5.875 million and a 10-team no-trade list. Moving him if he wants out would be a little more complicated but not impossible if it comes to that.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE WILD?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski examined the potential offseason plans for the Minnesota Wild following their recent first-round elimination by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Wild GM Bill Guerin faces difficult decisions in July’s expansion draft. Five players (Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Mats Zuccarello) have no-movement clauses and must be protected.

If Guerin protects seven forwards he risks losing defenseman Matt Dumba to the Seattle Kraken. Protect eight skaters to protect Dumba and they could lose a forward like Jordan Greenway. He must also decide between exposing veteran goalie Cam Talbot or promising Kaapo Kahkonen. Perhaps Guerin swings a side deal with the Kraken to protect a player.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani also weighed in on Guerin’s expansion draft plans. If the Wild GM could convince one of his players with NMCs (such as Suter) to waive their clause, it would allow him to protect Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken could pass on Suter or Parise if they waive their movement clauses. Both are aging veterans with each carrying annual cap hits of over $7.5 million for four more years. It’s no certainty, however, either guy will agree to it.

Wyshynski and Mizutani also wondered what the future holds for Parise, a frequent healthy scratch this season who saw mostly fourth-line duty. A buyout is unlikely because it would put the club in salary-cap hell for the rest of the decade. It could be difficult to find a team willing to acquire the remainder of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mizutani’s colleague John Shipley believes Parise showed he could still be a contributor for the Wild with two goals and an assist when he finally got back into the roster against the Golden Knights. Finding a suitable role for him on the roster for next season will be challenging if a trade cannot be worked out.

If the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel decide to part ways this summer, Wyshynski suggests the Wild has the depth in promising prospects and young players to make a competitive bid. They have a longstanding need for a top center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, they do, and as long as they don’t sell the whole farm to get Eichel, he could prove a worthwhile addition to their lineup. That’s assuming, of course, he’ll be put on the trade block this summer.

MORE PENGUINS SPECULATION

TRIBLIVE.COM: Mark Madden recently envisioned the Pittsburgh Penguins trading Jake Guentzel for a different type of forward after watching the skillful winger getting battered and bullied in the playoffs. He pointed to when the Penguins traded James Neal for rugged Patric Hornqvist in 2014.

Seth Rorabaugh speculated the Penguins could free up some cap space if they can entice the Seattle Kraken to select someone like Marcus Pettersson ($4.025 million annually) or Jason Zucker ($5.5 million) by offering up a draft pick. They did something similar with Marc-Andre Fleury during the Golden Knights’ expansion draft in 2017.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Guentzel for a power forward would be a significant move by the Penguins. It would address Brian Burke’s desire to add some skilled toughness and size to their lineup. However, it could also backfire by robbing the Penguins of a significant part of their scoring punch.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 12, 2021

More Jack Eichel trade speculation plus the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EICHEL

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources said Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel had a contentious exit interview with the organization. It’s believed he’s exploring an artificial disk replacement in his neck on the advice of his medical team. The Sabres, however, aren’t thrilled with that option because of the lack of evidence of its effectiveness on elite-level athletes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That resulted in Eichel’s surprising comments about his future during his season-ending media conference call on Monday.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

Eichel may have played his final game for the Sabres. He will attract plenty of interest in the trade market despite his medical treatment.

The Rangers are the obvious suitor given their interest in Eichel last year. They weren’t willing to part with their 2020 first-round pick because it was first overall but that could be an option this time around unless they win the draft lottery again. Friedman wonders if the Sabres would ship Eichel to New York but also mused over whether they would say no if the Rangers made the best offer.

Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets could try but Friedman wonders if they have the pieces. He thinks the Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings could do it. The Ottawa Senators could too but it doesn’t make sense for them. So could the Montreal Canadiens.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun also believes the Rangers could be a suitor for Eichel, as well as the Minnesota Wild. The latter have to re-sign Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek so they have to make the money work.

Frank Seravalli doubts the Sabres would want to trade Eichel to a division rival and risk facing him six to eight times a season. He thinks California teams like Anaheim and Los Angeles would be better destinations. Ducks general manager Bob Murray wants to make a splash while the Kings reportedly had a cursory conversation with the Sabres about Eichel before last month’s trade deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun asked several NHL team executives about a potential Eichel trade sweepstakes and received a wide range of views. Despite some concerns about Eichel’s injury history and character, LeBrun has no doubt that the center will be too tempting for teams to pass up.

Michael Russo believes the Minnesota Wild would have to shed salary to fit Eichel’s $10 million annual average value within their salary cap. He wondered if the Sabres would be interested in an offer of Kevin Fiala and Matt Dumba. However, they could prefer a first-line center or blue-chip center prospect as part of any return for Eichel.

Hailey Salvian thinks Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving could look into acquiring Eichel. She speculates Matthew Tkachuk would have to be part of a package offer.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White doesn’t see the San Jose Sharks winning a bidding war for Eichel. The Kings and Ducks can outbid them and they have more cap space to work with.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still believe the Rangers and Kings would be the front-runners in the Eichel sweepstakes if they choose to pursue a trade. They have the depth in assets to make a strong pitch.

Ducks GM Bob Murray did attempt to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois in January before he was traded to Winnipeg. However, the Sabres will ask for promising Trevor Zegras and perhaps defenseman Jamie Drysdale as well. Murray didn’t want to part with either guy for Dubois and could be reluctant to do so for Eichel.

The Blue Jackets have the cap room but I don’t see them outbidding the Rangers or Kings. Cap Friendly shows the Flyers with over $69 million invested in 17 players for next season. They must shed cap space to make room for Eichel’s $10 million cap hit and I doubt they can tempt the Sabres into helping them.

The Senators have the depth in promising assets and plenty of cap space. However, they seem happy with how their current roster is developing and could be reluctant to mess that up with a big splash in the trade pool. The Canadiens have the assets but, like the Flyers, lack the cap space to pull it off.

Wild GM Bill Guerin could kick tires on Eichel. While Joel Eriksson Ek has blossomed into a solid two-way center but they still lack a genuine first-liner. However, I think Guerin will consider more affordable options to address that need.

Treliving of the Flames could also inquire but I don’t believe he can meet the Sabres asking price or outbid other clubs He could, however, look at Eichel’s teammate Sam Reinhart. Friedman suggested Reinhart, a West Vancouver native, could attract interest from the Western Canadian NHL teams.

COYOTES

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan believes the Arizona Coyotes’ biggest need is a No. 1 center but believes they’ll have to draft and develop one as rival clubs are reluctant to trade such commodities. If GM Bill Armstrong pursues a center it’ll likely be a middle-six option.

Morgan also believes the Coyotes need a physical top-four defenseman with a right-hand shot. Addressing that need is a priority for Armstrong.

Of the Coyotes’ pending unrestricted free agents, Morgan believes Alex Goligoski is the only one who might be brought back. He feels Goligoski would get a one- or two-year deal.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates the Coyotes could trade winger Phil Kessel for draft picks and prospects. He was among the top-30 in goals this season and is due for a $5 million bonus for next season followed by $1 million in base salary. Friedman also shot down a rumor suggesting the Coyotes would buy out Nick Schmaltz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel would certainly fill that first-line center need for the Coyotes. They have the cap space but I don’t see them getting into the bidding given the reports earlier this season of ownership’s financial woes.

Kessel still has his 8-team no-trade list but that still gives the Coyotes a decent number of possible destinations if they wish to move him. Any interested parties, however, will wait until he’s received that bonus payment.