NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 29, 2020

The latest on Jack Eichel, Torey Krug, Taylor and Shayne Gostisbehere in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TEAMS CALLING ABOUT EICHEL

WGR 550: Brayton J. Wilson cited TSN’s Bob McKenzie reporting yesterday hearing what he called “unverified chatter” claiming Jack Eichel requested a trade from the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers were among the interested teams. Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, told McKenzie his client doesn’t want out of Buffalo.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

McKenzie also said several clubs have contacted Kevyn Adams since he took over as Sabres GM to inquire about Eichel’s availability. The Rangers were believed to be among those teams.

None of those talks discussions generated any trade traction involving the 23-year-old center. The Sabres aren’t shopping Eichel and there’s no real desire to trade their captain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t fault general managers from calling to see if Eichel might be available. He has expressed frustration over the years of constant losing but his agent insists his client wants to make things work in Buffalo. The Sabres remain committed to building around their captain. Their recent acquisition of Eric Staal as their new second-line center is an obvious example.

LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Darren Hartwell reports of speculation the Bruins could trade the rights of Torey Krug. The 29-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. The Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings are said to be potential suitors for Krug’s contract rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems unlikely the Bruins will re-sign Krug unless he’s willing to accept less than market value. TSN’s Frank Seravalli said hearing they offered a six-year deal worth $6.5 million annually but Krug apparently feels he get better offers on the open market. They could shop his rights before Oct. 9 if they can get a decent draft pick in return.

The Avalanche and Wings have the cap space to sign Krug. The Golden Knights have just $4.9 million available with goaltender Robin Lehner to re-sign or replace. The Panthers have $59.7 million invested in 12 players and there’s talk they could set an internal cap of $70 million. Neither club has the cap room at the moment to take on an expensive free agent like Krug.

Nick Goss, meanwhile, cited TSN’s Frank Seravalli suggesting Taylor Hall might be a good fit with the Bruins. The 28-year-old Arizona Coyotes left winger is also a pending UFA. Seravalli wondered what the Bruins will do with restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk, adding they won’t need to re-sign him if they pursue Hall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While Goss believes Hall would be a great fit alongside center David Krejci on the Bruins second line, his injury history and the cost of signing him (Goss suggests six years at $7 million per) makes him an expensive gamble. He also pointed the Bruins would still have to address the absence of Krug on their blueline.

GOSTISBEHERE AVAILABLE

THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cited The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reporting sources claiming Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is available in the offseason trade market. He has three seasons remaining on his contract worth an annual value of $4.25 million. An injury limited the 27-year-old blueliner to 42 games last season and he was also a frequent healthy scratch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams seeking a skilled puck-moving defenseman could take a chance on “Ghost Bear”. He’s got an affordable contract that could be appealing to cap-strapped clubs.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – July 10, 2020

How much would it cost to acquire Sabres captain Jack Eichel? How will a flat salary cap affect the Capitals? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE SABRES

WGR550: Joe DiBiase weighs in on the cost for interested clubs to acquire Jack Eichel. He was inspired by the recent musings from some fans and pundits over what it would take to acquire the Buffalo Sabres captain.

What would it cost to acquire Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images)

DiBiase dismisses the recent talk of Eichel supposedly being frustrated with the Sabres as speculation. He believes there’s “no way in hell” the 23-year-old superstar is getting traded now. Nevertheless, he decides to show why it will be difficult for rival clubs to pry away Eichel from the Sabres.

DiBiase believes the asking price to be a young No. 1 center and something of significance. He quickly dismissed 19 of the 31 NHL clubs as lacking the necessary components to make that trade.

For the rest, here is what DiBiases believes are fair asking prices:

Calgary Flames: Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and a first-round pick.

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost.

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen.

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid.

Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov, Spencer Knight, and a first-round pick.

New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and two first-round picks.

New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, and two first-round picks.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin.

Vancouver Canucks: Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Far-fetched? Outrageous? Completely unlikely to happen? You bet, but those returns make more sense than most of the Eichel trade scenarios floating around in cyberspace. Google “Eichel Trade Rumor” to see what I mean. Some folks seem to think they can get the Sabres’ captain for a package of draft picks, prospects, and cast-offs.

Eichel is a great player on a bad team. He’d be even greater on a good one. And no, your favorite club won’t be able to take advantage of the Sabres’ dysfunctional front office to steal away their captain. Unless Eichel forces the issue, and there’s no indication he’s going to anytime soon, they have no intention of trading their franchise player.

CAPITALS FACE A CAP CRUNCH

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: JJ Regan examines what a flat cap of $81.5 million means for the Washington Capitals over the next two seasons. They have 11 forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie under contract for 2020-21, with a little less than $10.4 million in cap space remaining.

Their unrestricted free agents include goaltender Braden Holtby, defensemen Brenden Dillon and Radko Gudas, while winger Ilya Kovalchuk. Jonas Siegenthaler and Travis Boyd are their restricted free agents.

Does this ensure the end of Holtby’s time in Washington? Does the team wait on a long-term extension for Ovechkin to get a better idea of where the salary cap may be in a few years? Can the team afford to keep any of its UFAs? Does the team leave (TJ) Oshie exposed to Seattle in the expansion draft?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby was expected to depart via free agency even when the salary cap was projected to rise to between $84-$88 million. Gudas and Kovalchuk aren’t expected back. Re-signing Dillon could eat up between $4-$5 million annually. That won’t leave much to fill out the rest of the roster.

They could wait on an extension for Ovechkin until they see how things look beyond next season. Cap Friendly indicates they’ve got over $57 million invested in 13 players, with Jakub Vrana and Ilya Samsonov also to re-sign. They could be forced to leave Oshie or another comparable salary exposed in next year’s expansion draft to free up sufficient space for Ovechkin, Vrana, and Samsonov.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 29, 2020

Check out the latest Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Brian Witt believes the San Jose Sharks shouldn’t be ruled out if Jack Eichel demands a trade. The Buffalo Sabres captain recently expressed his unhappiness over the club’s constant losing. That was soon followed by the team’s ownership purging its front-office staff.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (Photo via NHL Images).

While Sabres ownership hopes the shake-up quickly turns things around, Witt wonders if Eichel could run out of patience and demand a trade. If so, he pondered the possibility of the Sharks getting into the bidding for the young center’s services.

If Eichel sought a trade, Witt believes the Sabres’ asking price would be astronomical. He cited NHL Network’s Mike Johnson suggesting the package would have to include a current young player, a future first-round pick, and two top prospects.

Witt suggests one shouldn’t dismiss the Sharks as long as Doug Wilson is general manager, pointing to his acquisitions of Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, and Evander Kane, among others. He speculates a possible Sharks trade package would include Burns, Ryan Merkley, Jonathan Dahlen, and a first, and that might not be enough. Burns’ age (35) and three-team trade list would be sticking points. Witt suggested Timo Meier as another option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Eichel hasn’t asked to be traded. I expect he’ll be suiting up with the Sabres for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, another year or two of mediocrity could test his patience.

The Sharks could come calling if Eichel hits the trade block. If Wilson could land a superstar in his mid-twenties I expect he’d do it, especially if he’s looking for a young star to build around quickly. I doubt the Sabres would be interested in Burns, but they could ask for Meier.

Of course, this is all spitballing. It’s a quiet time for pundits covering the non-playoff clubs and they’re going to spend some time speculating over what moves those teams could make. As long as the Sabres continue to flounder among the league’s worst teams, the more speculation will grow over Eichel’s future in Buffalo and the more media musings over where he could go.

NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked about what type of contract Sam Reinhart might get from the Sabres. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Rosen suggests St. Louis Blues winger Jaden Schwartz as a comparable. While Schwartz is three years older, his rate of production during his early years was similar to Reinhart.

He signed a five-year, $26.75 million deal in 2016, with the annual average value ($5.35 million) representing 7.3 percent of the Blues’ cap hit at the time of the signing. A similar percentage for Reinhart would be about $6 million, though Rosen suggests there could be some wiggle room to be between $6-$7 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the recent front-office changes, I don’t see the Sabres passing on re-signing Reinhart. It could be something between four and six years worth around $6.5 million annually.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 25, 2020

Check out the latest Buffalo Sabres speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty suggests the Buffalo Sabres’ “dumpster fire” might be a good opportunity for the Bruins to look into acquiring Jack Eichel. The Sabres captain was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, providing the Bruins with a local boy possessing superstar potential. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci aging, Eichel would give the Bruins a dominant young center. 

Should the Boston Bruins look into acquiring Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel? (Photo via NHL Images).

Haggerty noted Eichel’s recent exasperation with the Sabres’ ongoing mediocrity, suggesting perhaps he’s tacitly pining for a change of scenery. Acquiring him would be expensive. Haggerty felt it could cost the Bruins promising young center John Beecher, winger Jake DeBrusk, and a robust high draft pick package. They might also have to include a defenseman like Charlie McAvoy or Brandon Carlo, which would be a difficult decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Folks may be looking at Eichel’s comments and seeing more than is really there. There’s no question he’s frustrated over the constant losing, and Sabres’ ownership should be concerned if their franchise player isn’t happy. Nevertheless, there’s no indication Eichel wants out of Buffalo…yet.

Another season or two of mediocrity could test Eichel’s patience. If that happens, the Bruins could be among the clubs queuing up to inquire into his availability and the Sabres’ asking price.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington recently observed Sabres defensemen Brandon Montour and Colin Miller didn’t seem to fit into coach Ralph Krueger’s system. He wouldn’t be shocked if new general manager Kevyn Adams moved them in the off-season for some help on the forward lines. Harrington also noted Krueger really likes Rasmus Ristolainen, suggesting the recent change in management could be a good sign for the 26-year-old defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen, Montour, and Miller frequently surfaced in this season’s trade rumors. Ristolainen suggested he might be among the first to be moved if then-GM Jason Botterill wanted to make changes, but he also sang Kruger’s praises.

With Botterill gone, Ristolainen might not be a trade candidate after all. Montour and/or Miller, however, seem more likely to be moved by new management, especially if Krueger has any say in the matter.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: In his Sabres postmortem, Matt Larkin noted the Sabres will have over $34 million in salary-cap space to work with during the off-season. He feels that’s enough to re-sign restricted free agents like Montour, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Dominik Kahun, and Linus Ullmark while leaving enough to go shopping in the free-agent market. Given the current status of the club, however, they could be forced to overpay to attract UFA talent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather than chase overpriced UFAs, Adams should target clubs looking to shed salary before next season. With 13 teams carrying payrolls of over $70 million for next season, Adams could pluck away a couple of good young players from cap-strapped rivals.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 22, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 22, 2020

Check out the latest Sabres speculation and updates on Torey Krug in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SOME QUESTIONS FOR THE SABRES

SPORTSNET: Luke Fox has some questions for the Buffalo Sabres in the wake of their mass firings among their management, scouting, and minor-league coaching departments last week.

Noting former Sabres general manager Jason Botterill considered Rasmus Ristolainen a core player, he wonders if Kevyn Adams (Botterill’s replacement) feels the same.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ristolainen recently suggested he could be among the first players moved if then-GM Botterill opted to shake up the roster. However, he also indicated he enjoyed playing for head coach Ralph Krueger, whose opinion could determine whether Ristolainen has a future in Buffalo.

He’s also curious how Adams will handle the different negotiations for restricted free agents Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson, and how much patience there is for Casey Mittelstadt or Dylan Cozens to develop into a second-line NHL center.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (Photo via NHL Images).

Reinhart and Olofsson both have arbitration rights. The former, however, has several NHL seasons under his belt while the latter completed his rookie campaign. Reinhart could get a lucrative long-term deal while Olofsson could get a one- or two-year “show me” bridge contract.

Lastly, Fox wonders where captain Jack Eichel‘s “fed-up rating” will be a year from now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another lost season will certainly generate speculation over Eichel’s future in Buffalo. And speaking of the Sabres franchise player…

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens and Lisa Dillman acknowledged there’s no indication Eichel wants out of Buffalo. If he ever does, however, they examined what it would cost the Anaheim Ducks to pursue him.

Finding a way to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual average value would be difficult. It could also cost the Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm, a top prospect like Trevor Zengras, and the Ducks 2021 first-round pick as part of a potential five-piece package.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If COVID-19 ends up scuttling the league’s return-to-play plan, we could see a lot of Eichel trade scenarios floated by bored pundits over a long off-season. If the day should come within the next couple of years when Eichel decides he wants a trade, I think we can all agree the asking price will be massive.

UPDATE ON KRUG

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports there’s some real uncertainty over whether Torey Krug will remain with the Bruins following this season. The 29-year-old defenseman is an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. Uncertainty over the salary cap for next season and the need to re-sign other Bruins such as Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk could complicate efforts to keep him in Boston. Haggerty believes Krug could command around $8 million annually on the open market.

DJ Bean acknowledged Krug would have to take a discount to stay in Boston. Nevertheless, he explored ways the Bruins could free up further cap room to re-sign Krug, suggesting trading defenseman John Moore ($1.8 million) or forward Nick Ritchie ($1.5 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins, like most NHL clubs right now, won’t re-sign key players until they know what next season’s salary cap will be. There’s talk it will remain at $81.5 million, but that’s not a certainty.

Krug could command big bucks on the open market, but a flat cap could mean fewer teams bidding for his services in the off-season. That could work in the Bruins’ favor.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2020

Updates on Jack Eichel and Braden Holtby in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EICHEL, SABRES MANAGEMENT SHARE FRUSTRATION

THE SCORE: Matt Teague cited Jack Eichel’s recent interview with TSN’s Darren Dreger affirming he and Buffalo Sabres management are on the same page over the club’s lack of progress. The Sabres captain spoke with general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Ralph Krueger, saying they understand and share his frustration. Eichel also said he wasn’t the only one expressing that opinion, only he was a little blunter.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s remarks last month over the club’s constant losing prompted some observers to suggest he could end up on the trade block or Botterill could listen to offers. I believe that’s just wishful thinking…for now.

The Sabres have no intention of trading their franchise player. He’s the foundation piece upon whatever future success rests.

Eichel won’t be traded unless he asks for it and there’s no indication he wants out. That could change in two or three years, however, if the Sabres remain mired in mediocrity.

HOLTBY FACING UNCERTAIN FUTURE

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan recently reported on the uncertainty facing Braden Holtby and his fellow unrestricted free agents in the off-season caused by the coronavirus. The 30-year-old goaltender seemed destined to hit the open market, but Regan wondered if there’s an opportunity now for the two sides to work out a deal. “To be honest I have no clue,” Holtby said when asked about his future status as a UFA.

Regan doubts Holtby will sign a one-year contract in hopes of getting a better deal following next season. The Capitals’ future starter, Ilya Samsonov, is already on the roster. Regan doubts the Caps would bring back Holtby as their starter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There been a sense this season that Holtby and the Capitals would party company. This is his first time eligible for UFA status and he reportedly intends to make the most of it.

Holtby’s completing a five-year deal with an annual average value of $6.1 million. As a former Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion, Holtby feels he’s in line for significant pay raise.

The Caps, meanwhile, have over $71 million already invested in 16 players for 2020-21. Even if they re-signed Holtby to a hometown discount on a one-year deal, it would leave them with little to fill out the rest of the roster.