Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Mill – October 17, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, the potential cost for the Rangers to re-sign Adam Fox and the Stars’ contract talks with John Klingberg in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports one of the biggest hurdles to getting a Jack Eichel trade done is the Buffalo Sabres’ unwillingness to retain any portion of his salary. They’re willing to take back some contracts in return but it’s still difficult with the 24-year-old center having four more years with an annual average value of $10 million remaining on his contract.

Friedman believes the Colorado Avalanche made a call to see if they could make it work but the Sabres’ unwillingness to take salary stopped discussions. Jeff Marek said the Vegas Golden Knights were in conversation with the Sabres but were unwilling to part with young center Peyton Krebs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame the Sabres for not wanting to retain salary. They don’t want to carry what would likely be a significant chunk of dead cap space for the next four seasons. Maybe they might budge a bit if this issue becomes the only sticking point but I think owner Terry Pegula wants Eichel completely off his books.

I’m not sure how much salary the Avalanche would want the Sabres to absorb but it would have to be a healthy chunk given their limited cap space. They’re already using LTIR right now and have over $55.7 million invested in 12 players for 2022-23 with the cap expected to rise by just $1 million to $82.5 million.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (NHL Images).

As for the Golden Knights, Eichel would be an ideal fit there but they too don’t have much cap room and would need the Sabres to retain some salary in the deal to make it work. Their unwillingness to move Krebs also seems a deal-breaker.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox is inching closer to a massive contract extension with the New York Rangers. The current price-point for talented young defensemen when Cale Makar inked a six-year extension this summer with the Avalanche worth $9 million annually. The Boston Bruins signing Charlie McAvoy last week to an eight-year extension worth an AAV of $9.5 million will also be duly noted by the Fox camp.

After signing Mika Zibanejad to an eight-year deal, Walker believes the Rangers face some salary-cap challenges for next season. While it’s possible Fox could accept a hometown discount to ensure the club can build around him, he would also be within his rights to seek between $9.5 million and $10 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even a hometown discount of, say, $8 million will still take a big bite out of the Rangers cap payroll. I’ll be shocked if he accepted that.

Some readers here speculate he might accept a one-year contract for considerably less but I doubt he’ll go that route considering he’s coming off a season that saw him join Bobby Orr as the only sophomores in NHL history to win the Norris. He may have grown up as a big Rangers fan but they’re still going to have to pay a lot for the privilege of having him on their roster.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek said the Dallas Stars want John Klingberg to stay and the 27-year-old defenseman wants to remain with the Stars. However, his asking price could make it difficult to re-sign him. Marek reports Klingberg seeks an eight-year contract between $62 million and $66 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s an annual average value between $7.75 million and $8.25 million. It’s less than what teammate Miro Heiskanen got on his contract ($8.45 million AAV) and well below the $9 million Dougie Hamilton got as a UFA this summer from the New Jersey Devils.

Nevertheless, that could be a difficult number for the Stars to absorb. With Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Ryan Suter already earning a combined $17.9 million annually, Klingberg’s asking price would push that to around $25 million invested in just four defensemen.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 15, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, the Islanders could be in the market for a defenseman this season, the Blackhawks could try to shed salary and an update on Vitali Kravtsov in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ESPN: Emily Kaplan last night reported there was “serious optimism” last Thursday that a Jack Eichel trade was imminent but things fell quiet. She said there are five teams still interested in the Buffalo Sabres center that can fit his $10 million annual average value within their salary-cap payrolls.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Maybe that means moving some contracts or whatever,” said Kaplan. She also said those teams have agreed to allow Eichel to have the disc replacement surgery he seeks.

The preferred option is he’s traded, gets the procedure done and returns to action in three-to-four months. The other, which nobody wants, is he files a grievance but he might not have a case because of the CBA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication from Kaplan as to who those five clubs might be. As per Cap Friendly, teams with lots of cap space and sufficient assets in prospects and promising young talent to acquire Eichel could include the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators. The Arizona Coyotes could also be a fit if they shed a bit of salary. Those clubs could use an established first-line center but that doesn’t mean they’re all in the hunt for Eichel.

TSN:  Pierre LeBrun believes the Ducks could be one of the destinations for Eichel, as they could make do with his absence from the lineup during his recovery. He also thinks the St. Louis Blues could be lurking though they want to be a contender this year.

The Calgary Flames did their due diligence on Eichel this summer. LeBrun also suggested the San Jose Sharks as he wondered what could happen with winger Evander Kane. If Kane ends up coming off their books they would suddenly have $7 million in cap space.

LeBrun points out pulling off an Eichel trade remains tricky based on the conditions that would be tied to his health following his surgery. His long recovery would also be another complicating factor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $12.9 million in cap space, the Ducks are best-suited of the clubs mentioned by LeBrun to absorb his full contract. They also have depth in promising young players and prospects to draw upon for trade bait though I doubt they’ll want to part with Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Mason McTavish.

The Blues are already in LTIR country and aren’t a fit unless they can move Vladimir Tarasenko and his $7.5 million cap hit. The Flames are pressed against the $81.5 million cap so it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out to pull that off. That might mean moving Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan or Matthew Tkachuk to the Sabres or another club in a separate deal to make the dollars fit.

If Kane ends up suspended by the league as a result of one or both investigations he’s currently under it might be grounds for the Sharks to terminate his contract. I don’t see how they can trade him given his off-ice issues. Otherwise, they’re also not a fit for Eichel.

THE ATHLETIC: Earlier this week, Arthur Staple speculated the New York Islanders’ decision not to sign Erik Gustafsson suggests general manager Lou Lamoriello could prefer waiting until later in the season to invest assets in acquiring a defenseman. He believed Lamoriello looked into the status of Anaheim Ducks blueliner Hampus Lindholm, who’s an unrestricted free agent next summer. He might’ve also inquired about Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staple published this before Ekholm signed his contract extension with the Predators, taking him out of this season’s trade market. He also noted the Isles have their first-round pick in next year’s draft and not much else to offer up as trade bait. However, he felt Lamoriello’s “willing to throw in for help” while the Isles might be best positioned to win the Stanley Cup this season.

DAILY FACEOFF’s Frank Seravalli took to Twitter yesterday reporting the Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Andrew Shaw’s contract. He’s on permanent LTIR with an annual average value of $3.9 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: PuckPedia explained trading Shaw’s contract would allow the Blackhawks to become salary-cap compliant once sidelined Caleb Jones returns to action. It would also allow them to accrue cap space later in the season plus save some cash.

 










NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2021

The latest on Brady Tkachuk, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome, Vitali Kravtsov and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NOTABLE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS”.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports no change in the contract impasse between the Ottawa Senators and left winger Brady Tkachuk. They still want a seven- or eight-year contract while Tkachuk wants a bridge deal.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer this goes on the more concern will be raised about Tkachuk’s long-term future in Ottawa. He’s already played three seasons and a three-year bridge deal brings him to within one year of his UFA eligibility. I can understand the Senators’ rationale to avoid that scenario. However, a long standoff could cause irreparable harm to his relationship with management and send him out the door much sooner than the Senators prefer.

Friedman believes the New York Rangers’ re-signing Mika Zibanejad takes them out of the Jack Eichel trade market unless the Buffalo Sabres or a third party is willing to retain salary. “New York can’t do it at $10M”, referring to Eichel’s annual average value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Or the Rangers shed $10 million to make room for Eichel’s full cap hit, which also seems unlikely.

The Philadelphia Flyers informed Travis Konecny at the end of last season they could’ve easily traded him as there was lots of interest in the winger. However, they didn’t want to do it because they felt he’s too important and too good to give up on. Konecny rewarded that faith by showing up fit and ready to go for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher fired a shot across Konecny’s bow. He’s a terrific player but was inconsistent and seemed distracted at times during last season. If he’s put those issues behind him the Flyers will be thankful they stayed patient with him.

Friedman wouldn’t be surprised if the Seattle Kraken sign captain Mark Giordano to a contract extension

BLACKHAWKS COULD MOVE DYLAN STROME

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Chicago Blackhawks have a surplus of centers and there’s a good chance Dylan Strome could be traded within the next week or two. He said there are some teams “kicking tires” on the 24-year-old center.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman also believes Strome could be a trade candidate. “Head coach Jeremy Colliton is talking about him as a fourth-liner, and that’s not a place he will thrive.”

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli said the Blackhawks aren’t facing pressure to move Strome. However, they’re actively listening to offers and considering their options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Seattle Kraken could be among the suitors. Strome’s in the final season of a two-year contract with a $3 million annual average value but that could prove expensive for cap-strapped teams.

RANGERS WILLING TO TRADE VITALI KRAVTSOV

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the New York Rangers have given Vitali Kravtsov’s agent permission to talk to other clubs about a trade. He claims there’s “definitely interest” in the 21-year-old winger, who was selected ninth overall by the Rangers in 2018.

TSN: Chris Johnston suggested there is precedent for the acquisition cost, pointing out the Rangers shipped former first-rounder Lias Andersson to the Los Angeles Kings last fall for the 60th overall pick (second round) in the 2020 NHL Draft.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 12, 2021

Some more Jack Eichel speculation plus the latest on the Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun recently reported Jack Eichel remains adamant about undergoing artificial disc replacement. While the procedure has never been done on an NHL player, some teams are warming to the idea if they can acquire him from the Buffalo Sabres.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Those interested clubs, however, are insisting on having a conditional aspect tied to any trade based on Eichel’s recovery and health. He’d be sidelined for four months with no guarantee he’ll be fully fixed up. The Sabres will thus have to alter their trade demands. General manager Kevyn Adams acknowledged an Eichel deal would have to come with conditions likely tied to games played, etc.

LeBrun believes the Minnesota Wild are out of the Eichel market because it would take moving a lot of cap space to absorb the center’s $10 million annual average value. He doesn’t see the Philadelphia Flyers getting involved based on their offseason moves. The Los Angeles Kings also don’t seem to be that involved.

The Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks did their due diligence and LeBrun believes they’re still in it to some degree. The Ducks make the most sense as they’re rebuilding with youth but he wondered how much it would cost them to acquire Eichel. He also believes there are other suitors yet to be identified.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also didn’t see the New York Rangers pursuing Eichel. He made that assessment before the Blueshirts re-signed Mika Zibanejad, a move that should take them out of the market for the Sabres center.

It appears the teams with the best chance of acquiring Eichel are those with plenty of salary cap space, as well as promising trade bait such as extra draft picks and/or prospects and young NHL players.

The Ducks would fall into that category and would make the most sense. However, the asking price could be Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale and I don’t see them parting with either guy.

The Ottawa Senators would be a prime candidate but who knows if cantankerous Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would sign off on this. The Columbus Blue Jackets have lacked a true first-line center for years and also possess the assets to swing a deal. The same goes for the Arizona Coyotes but they might not be keen to take on that big salary.

I’m skeptical that the Flames can land Eichel. Cap Friendly shows them with just $300K in projected cap space entering this season so they’ll have to dump a lot of salary to take on his contract. Some will suggest offering Johnny Gaudreau given his UFA status next summer or Sean Monahan with a year left on his contract. However, their respective no-trade clauses could prevent a trade with the Sabres. Let’s not forget the Sabres would want assurances of signing either guy which they likely won’t get.

NEW YORK POST: Mark W. Sanchez reports Rangers general manager Chris Drury is attempting to trade defenseman Libor Hajek. They’re carrying him on the roster for now rather than risk another club plucking him off waivers. The chance of moving him within the next couple of days appears minimal.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 11, 2021

The fallout from the Rangers re-signing Mika Zibanejad plus the latest on the Senators and Blackhawks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien considers the New York Rangers out of the Jack Eichel trade market with their signing of Mika Zibanejad yesterday to an eight-year extension worth $8.5 million per season.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (NHL Images).

O’Brien suggests the Rangers do have some salary-cap challenges ahead. 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox becomes a restricted free agent next summer. In addition to Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider, Igor Shesterkin and Barclay Goodrow take up a considerable chunk of their salary-cap payroll for 2022-23.

Fox could be eyeing a deal comparable to the $9 million AAV Cale Makar signed this summer with the Colorado Avalanche. Promising winger Kaapo Kakko is also slated for RFA status next summer.

NEW YORK POST: Before the Zibanejad signing, Larry Brooks was skeptical of the Rangers acquiring Eichel. On Oct. 9, he suggested the only way the Blueshirts could afford Eichel and Zibanejad was if the Buffalo Sabres absorbed 40 to 50 percent of the 24-year-old center’s $10 million annual cap hit.

Brooks dismissed the likelihood of Sabres owner Terry Pegula agreeing to that. He believed Pegula would prefer shipping Eichel anywhere else but the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers aren’t acquiring Jack Eichel unless Zibanejad’s new contract is part of some elaborate “sign-and-trade” deal by general manager Chris Drury. Otherwise, they’ll have to shed $10 million in cap space to fit Eichel’s cap hit within their payroll. Doing that would weaken their depth.

Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $62 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23 with Fox, Kakko, Alexandar Georgiev and Ryan Strome among their notable free agents. Fox and Kakko are coming off their entry-level contracts and lack arbitration rights. Georgiev has arbitration rights while Strome is a UFA.

I don’t see the Rangers taking the hard-line with Fox. He’ll get at least $9 million, maybe more after winning the Norris Trophy last season. That will push the Rangers’ cap payroll to over $71 million with $11 million remaining for the others. They can likely afford most of them but it could be expensive to find a suitable replacement for Strome if he hits the open market.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes Senators GM Pierre Dorion will take a close look at the waiver wire to see if he can add another center with Colin White on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He could also go the trade route for help, perhaps by targeting a cap-strapped club.

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks don’t have to worry about losing Alex Nylander through waivers. He’d been previously designated as waiver-eligible but Cap Friendly now indicates he’s exempt because he was sidelined throughout last season. He still needs another pro season or 53 NHL games to be waiver-eligible.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel (yes, again!), updates on the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, and the latest on the Canadiens and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are some NHL teams interested in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel who are willing to let him undergo disc replacement surgery, others not so much.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Those teams are also telling the Sabres they want a conditional component to any trade because we don’t know what Eichel will be like when he returns from surgery, which could involve four months of recovery. LeBrun said the Sabres are willing to have a conditional part to a potential trade. It doesn’t mean a deal is imminent but another step in the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun said, a conditional component is a big deal as that could help to facilitate a trade. What that could look like is anyone’s guess. It could involve additional draft picks or prospects, perhaps some money retained by the Sabres, or something else. What’s also important is there are clubs willing to let Eichel get the surgery he wants. Whether those clubs can work out a suitable swap with the Sabres remains to be seen.

EKHOLM AND FORSBERG

LeBrun reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and his agent have told general manager David Poile that they would like to shelve contract talks for the season if a deal cannot be reached when the season opens next week. Talks are expected to continue before next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan reports Filip Forsberg’s agent told him contract talks with Predators management have not started.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg didn’t sound like he was in a rush to start contract discussions during a recent interview. Ekholm, on the other hand, appeared keen last week to get a deal done as soon as possible.

The issue here is whether either player fits into the Predators’ long-term plans. Ekholm is 31 and signing him to a long-term deal might not be the wisest course of action for a club in the midst of what Poile deemed “a competitive rebuild”.

Forsberg, 27, will command much more on the open market, perhaps $8 million per season. That’s a lot of money to invest in a player during a time when the club is undergoing a transition. Besides, Forsberg might not be keen to stick around with a rebuilding club as he enters his playing prime.

CANADIENS AND SENATORS SPECULATION

TSN: LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens announcement that the future of general manager Marc Bergevin wouldn’t be addressed until after this season suggests he could be a lame-duck GM. He points to the fact Bergevin and team president Geoff Molson spoke about his future in January and an offer was made in July that didn’t produce an agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is a lame-duck one wonders how long it will take for Molson to find a suitable replacement. It could depend upon the club’s performance this season.

The possibility of Bergevin’s departure will get a mixed reaction from Canadiens fans. Some have long wanted him gone, even after the club reached the Cup Final last season. Others have fully supported most of his moves and decisions. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the long-term absence of center Colin White to shoulder surgery could have the Senators seeking a short-term replacement via the waiver wire or trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s confirmed White could be out four to six months. Don’t be surprised if the Senators make a move via waivers or trade in the coming days.