Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 12, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 12, 2021

What could the Sabres do if Jack Eichel isn’t traded? What’s the latest on the Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko? What kind of contract could Kailer Yamamoto get from the Oilers? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl examined what the Buffalo Sabres might do if Jack Eichel isn’t traded before the start of the season.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Asked by a reader if Eichel would be placed on long-term injury reserve, Vogl points out the Sabres aren’t near the upper limit of the salary cap. Eichel would simply go on injured reserve and his $10 million annual average value would still count against their cap payroll.

Vogl projects they’re at $48.1 million (including Cody Hodgson’s buyout) without Eichel and restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in the lineup. That puts them $12.1 million under the cap’s lower limit.

If Eichel isn’t traded and goes on IR, his cap hit puts the Sabres within $2.1 million of the lower limit. A new contract for Dahlin would make them cap-compliant.

Vogl speculates the Sabres could put Eichel on IR and send him home to await a trade. He also points out the Sabres would have to take on salary to reach the cap floor if Eichel gets traded. If he refuses to report, he’d forfeit over $36K of his salary for each day he would be absent without permission.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always, the clubs with an interest in acquiring Eichel are reluctant to do so while he’s still sidelined by a herniated disc in his neck. His hefty contract and the Sabres’ expensive asking price also obstruct a potential trade. Things could get very interesting if Eichel remains with the Sabres when training camp opens later this month.

If Eichel gets traded the Sabres will have to take on some salary from whichever club they send him to. Even that might not be enough, forcing them into the trade and free-agent markets to address that need.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas was recently asked by a reader if Vladimir Tarasenko could return with the Blues rather than be traded before the start of this season. He admits it’s becoming more of a possibility as the start of the season gets close but feels the 29-year-old winger’s presence could be a distraction.

Thomas was asked about the rumors linking Tarasenko to the New York Islanders but doesn’t think a trade is possible. The Islanders are over the salary cap now and would have to clear some salary even if the Blues retained part of Tarasenko’s annual average value.

Tarasenko’s $7.5 million AAV also complicates the Blues’ salary-cap payroll. They have limited room and still have to sign restricted free agent Robert Thomas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thomas indicated the Blues could get some cap relief by placing forward Oskar Sundqvist on LTIR but he wouldn’t be there for long. Something’s got to give to free up sufficient space for Thomas, be it Tarasenko or somebody else.

Thomas’ mailbag piece came out before the Islanders announced Zach Parise’s one-year deal. They’ll get cap relief with all-but-retired Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million AAV on LTIR, but not enough to take on Tarasenko even if a significant chunk of his cap hit is retained by the Blues. Maybe if a third team became involved to further reduce what the Isles would take on but even that would be a tight squeeze.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the bridge-deal negotiations between the Oilers and RFA winger Kailer Yamamoto have as much to do with the club’s limited cap space as the uncertainty over where Yamamoto fits within the roster. “Is the restricted free agent a top-six winger or a third liner?”, asked Matheson.

He doesn’t see the Oilers signing Yamamoto to a deal comparable to the six-year deals in the $30 million range recently signed by Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee or Ottawa’s Drake Batherson. Instead, it could be something similar to Colorado forward Tyson Jost’s two-year, $4 million deal.

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, Brady Tkachuk, Elias Pettersson, Phil Kessel and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: In a recent roundup of notable hockey news, Elliotte Friedman reports the Buffalo Sabres had an “introductory meeting” with Jack Eichel’s new representatives. Thus far, however, no indication of any resolution in the 24-year-old center’s impasse with the team. Friedman believes the club revisited discussions with interested teams to see where they stand.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The issues probably remain the same for those clubs. They’re unlikely to pay the Sabres’ hefty asking price for a talented but expensive player who’s yet to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

The Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk’s representatives are still working on a long-term deal believed comparable to teammate Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $8 million per season contract. Both sides hope to have a deal in place before training camp opens later this month.

Friedman feels the Vancouver Canucks have made more progress in contract talks with Quinn Hughes than with Elias Pettersson. He wonders if Pettersson might be waiting to see what Minnesota Wild winger Kiril Kaprizov gets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could end up digging deep to pay Pettersson. Kaprizov reportedly could get $9 million annually on a five-year deal from the Wild.

Sources say Toronto Maple Leafs winger Ilya Mikheyev asked to be traded following last season but the club doesn’t want to accommodate his request. The departures of Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton mean the Leafs envision a bigger role for Mikheyev this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Playing time was apparently the issue for Mikheyev. He should get much more of that this season, providing him a terrific opportunity to prove his worth to the Leafs.

Friedman rejected rumors suggesting the Arizona Coyotes could trade defenseman Jakob Chychrun. However, he thinks veteran winger Phil Kessel could draw a lot of attention if he has a hot start to this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan observed, the Coyotes see the 23-year-old Chychrun as a player they can build around. Kessel, on the other hand, becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer and no longer has a future in Arizona. While the Coyotes only carry $6.8 million of his $8 million AAV, it could still be difficult to find takers for that cap hit.

A couple of teams are awaiting Tyler Bozak’s decision on where he’ll play this season. Friedman wonders if the 35-year-old center might land in Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the shelf to start the season.

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan reports Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas scuttled rumors linking his club to New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban. “I can definitively say that we have not thought a single thing about any player that is going to be a free agent a year from now,” said Dubas.

Koshan also reports Dubas did give some thought to trading one of his core players during the offseason. However, it didn’t sound like much serious thought was given to that idea.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban’s $9 million annual average value and the decline in his performance in recent years make him difficult to move right now.

I don’t doubt Dubas and the Leafs’ brain trust gave some thought to shake up their core but it was apparent during their season-ending press conference that they want to keep that group intact for this season. That could change next summer, however, if the Leafs fail again to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Dubas might not even be part of that decision as another early postseason exit could cost him his job.

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.


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.


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.


Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 5, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 5, 2021

Could the Rangers pursue Jack Eichel? What roster needs do the Golden Knights and Jets still have to address? Find out in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Rick Carpiniello was asked several questions by his readers about the possibility of the New York Rangers acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

If the Rangers intend to acquire Eichel, Carpiniello believes they’ll have to trade center Mika Zibanejad now or at the March trade deadline. Zibanejad is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and will be ready to cash in on a big payday. Asked if the Rangers could re-sign Zibanejad for $8 million annually, Carpiniello felt that would be a great discount considering what comparable players are earning.

Carpiniello doesn’t believe the Rangers should include promising winger Kaapo Kakko in any deal for Eichel. One of their young defensemen and perhaps center Filip Chytil would have to be part of the return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carpiniello doesn’t seem to hold much hope for the Rangers landing Eichel, calling it a “fantasy” at one point.

Cap Friendly shows the Rangers with over $7.9 million in projected cap space for the coming season. They could afford to take on Eichel’s $10 million annual average value if they shipped one or two salaried players to the Sabres as part of the deal. That’s assuming the Sabres would be willing to ship him to a nearby rival. And no, I don’t see them picking up any chunk of his cap hit to help the Blueshirts.

The Rangers have considerable depth in promising prospects and young NHL talent to dangle as trade bait for Eichel. The Sabres will want some decent talent in return, and that could include a couple of players like Kakko, Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller or Vitaly Kravtsov.

Remember, the Sabres’ supposed asking price is said to be four assets comparable to first-round draft picks. That means a first-round pick in 2022, one or two top prospects and one or two promising young NHL players.

As for Zibanejad, they could afford to carry him and Eichel this season. However, it could be a tight squeeze cap-wise depending on which players they send to Buffalo in return or shed in other cost-cutting moves.

It could cost between $9 million and $10 million annually for the Rangers to re-sign Zibanejad. They can’t afford to carry him and Eichel plus the hefty raise Adam Fox will command next summer as a restricted free agent. That won’t leave enough cap room to ice a playoff contender in 2022-23. As Carpiniello suggests, Zibanejad would have to be moved soon after acquiring Eichel or at this season’s trade deadline to avoid losing him for nothing next summer.

NHL.COM: Nicholas J. Cotsonika believes the Vegas Golden Knights still need a first-line center. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said they’re happy with their depth at that position after acquiring Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden during the offseason. Promising Peyton Krebs could also crack their lineup this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Patrick and Kreb have promise but they’re not ready to fill that first-line center position. That was a significant weakness for the Golden Knights over the last two seasons and could haunt them in 2021-22. They were linked to Eichel but their limited cap space likely takes them out of the bidding unless the Sabres are willing to absorb a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit.

Tim Campbell believes the Jets still need a veteran backup goaltender for starter Connor Hellebuyck. So far it appears they’ll go with Eric Comrie filling that role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to go the trade route to address that issue if it becomes a pressing need during this season. The free-agent market has been picked clean, with aging Devan Dubnyk and Curtis McElhinney still remaining. Tuukka Rask is also unsigned but everyone knows he’ll be returning to the Boston Bruins once he’s fully recovered from hip surgery in January.

NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 30, 2021

An update on the trade status of Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko and the effect of the Kotkaniemi offer sheet on the Canadiens and Hurricanes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford provided an update on the trade status of St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. He believes the Carolina Hurricanes remain interested as they need scoring help, especially on the power play. The New York Rangers could also be among the suitors.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

Asked if the New York Islanders are still in the mix, Rutherford believes they are, though you never know with general manager Lou Lamoriello. Some around the league believe he’s signed a few free agents this summer such as Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri, However, he hasn’t announced those deals so no one knows how much cap space he actually has for the coming season.

The odds are 50-50 that Tarasenko returns with the Blues this season but Rutherford feels he’ll be moved. He believes the relationship between Tarasenko and the club isn’t reparable and feels comfortable guaranteeing the winger will be traded.

Rutherford also didn’t dismiss the possibility of shipping Tarasenko in a package deal to the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel. He believes the Blues expressed interest in the Sabres center but it never became serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford published his mailbag before news broke of the Hurricanes signing Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet. If the Montreal Canadiens don’t match it, the Canes will be out of the Tarasenko sweepstakes. And no, they won’t flip Kotkaniemi to St. Louis in a package deal for Tarasenko. By signing that offer sheet, Kotkaniemi cannot be traded this season.

The Rangers could acquire Tarasenko as short-term depth until young right wingers Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov are better prepared to become full-time top-six forwards. However, they don’t appear in any hurry to make that move.

Given concerns about the Blues defense corps, they could seek a defenseman as part of the return. Rutherford heard the Islanders’ Scott Mayfield mentioned in recent speculation but that doesn’t mean the Isles will part with him. Lamoriello also has to sign Anthony Beauvillier and Ilya Sorokin. If he’s already signed UFAs like Parise and Palmieri, he probably won’t have enough room to acquire Tarasenko and have enough for Beauvillier and Sorokin.

Tarasenko to Buffalo for Eichel would be a blockbuster deal but I don’t see it happening. The 29-year-old Tarasenko has just two years left on his contract and would probably hit the open market in 2023. The Sabres will want a return that best fits into their long-term plans.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggests the Carolina Hurricanes’ signing Jesperi Kotkaniemi could affect the Jack Eichel trade market. If the Montreal Canadiens don’t match it, they’ll receive the Hurricanes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in next year’s NHL Draft.

With the Canadiens potentially having two firsts and two third-rounders next year, Kingerski wonders if offering up two firsts and a prospect could land them Eichel. He also took note of Eichel hiring Pat Brisson last week as his new agent, pointing out he and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin are close.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I observed in today’s morning coffee headlines, the Canadiens’ salary-cap constraints means they’ll likely have to part with a salaried player as part of a deal for Eichel even if they placed Shea Weber and Paul Byron on long-term injury reserve this season.

Weber is expected to miss the entire season but Byron is expected to return to the lineup in January. Unless the Sabres retain part of Eichel’s $10 million cap hit (and I doubt they will), I don’t see how the Habs can fit his contract into their payroll without shedding additional salary.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock acknowledged the salary-cap issues facing the Hurricanes if they successfully sign away Kotkaniemi from the Canadiens. He speculates one way to address it is by placing defenseman Jake Gardiner and his $4.050 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve.

However, the Hurricanes would have to be over the cap by $4 million to take full advantage of it. That would require another move or signing, and Gardiner would have to fail his training-camp physical or be willing, essentially, to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly provides complete details of how LTIR works and PuckPedia has a shorter version.

Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet pushed the Canes over the $81.5 million cap by $1.523 million. The Hurricanes could attempt to trade Gardiner to shed his full salary if he doesn’t fail his medical, place him on waivers or demote him to clear some cap room. Demotion, however, won’t clear his full cap hit from their books.

How the Hurricanes clear cap space remains hypothetical until the Canadiens reach their decision whether to match the offer within the seven-day window. GM Don Waddell could already have something else up his sleeve to address that issue. Stay tuned.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Evander Kane, participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported a meeting was held on Aug. 18 between the NHL, NHL Players Association, Buffalo Sabres, Jack Eichel and some medical professionals to attempt a resolution to the impasse between the club and the 24-year-old center.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel prefers a disc replacement procedure to address the herniated disc in his neck while the club prefers neck fusion surgery. The meeting ended without a solution to the situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only solution at this point is for the Sabres to trade Eichel to a club that will approve his disc replacement surgery.

TVA SPORTS: Eichel also journeyed to Montreal yesterday, creating speculation on social media that he’d been traded to the Canadiens. The real reason is to attend the BioSteelSports camp. His participation will be off-ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens had kicked tires on Eichel earlier in the offseason to gauge the Sabres’ asking price. Conjecture linking the Sabres star to the Habs increased last week after he changed agents and intensified over the weekend after the Carolina Hurricanes signed Montreal center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

If the Canadiens don’t match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet they’ll get the Hurricanes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Some observers suggest they could package those picks with their own first-rounder plus a prospect for Eichel.

However, they’ll probably have to include a salaried player or two to comfortably fit Eichel’s $10 million annual average value within the constraints of their cap payroll. The Sabres could absorb part of Eichel’s cap hit but I doubt they’ll agree to do so. They’ll want him completely off their books.

That’s also taking into account putting Shea Weber and Paul Byron ($11.257 million in combined AAV) on long-term injury reserve. Weber could be out for the season but Byron is expected to return from offseason hip surgery in January.

TSN: Speaking of Kotkaniemi, Darren Dreger reports some close to the young center predicted in early July he’d played his final game with the Canadiens after being scratched from a Stanley Cup Final game.

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie said sources told him the Kotkaniemi offer sheet was the brainchild of Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and wasn’t GM Don Waddell’s idea.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain the reports claiming the Hurricanes attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and then gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going the offer-sheet route. The Canadiens have seven days from the date the offer sheet was signed (Aug. 28) to match.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports sources suggest an agreement is close between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and International Olympic Committee allowing NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. A decision could be announced next week.

NEW YORK POST: The latest chapter in Evander Kane’s turbulent summer sees him being granted a temporary restraining order against his estranged wife Anna. The San Jose Sharks winger accused her of hitting him on four different occasions and swinging around their infant daughter during a heated argument. The couple is currently going through a divorce. Kane is also under investigation by the NHL after Anna accused him of throwing games for money and abandoning their child to party in Europe.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Speaking of the Sharks, fans must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend their home games this season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHLer Brandon Prust is temporarily leaving social media after apologizing for a tweet telling a woman she should be forced into the sex trade as part of his argument against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the NHL is contemplating a Heritage Classic game between the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton, Ontario this season. The game would take place at Tim Horton’s Field, which hosts the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Filip Gustavsson to a two-year contract.