NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2022

The possibility of Patrice Bergeron departing the Bruins as a free agent this summer plus the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy acknowledged it seems like a given Patrice Bergeron will either sign a one-year contract with the Bruins this summer or retire as a Bruin. However, he feels there’s a slight chance the 36-year-old future hall-of-famer could test the market if the club fails to go on one more serious Stanley Cup run over the next two months.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Numerous sources tell Murphy that Bergeron will draw plenty of interest from other clubs if he tests the market on July 13. One of them could be the Montreal Canadiens. His former agent, Kent Hughes, is now the Canadiens’ general manager.

Murphy doesn’t expect Bergeron to “go to the dark side” by signing with the Bruins’ biggest rival. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t blame him if he decided to sign with a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand a bit of nervousness among Bruins fans over Bergeron’s future. After all, long-time captain Zdeno Chara was cut loose two years ago and wound up signing with the Washington Capitals last season and the New York Islanders this season.

Chara, however, was a fading star when he and the Bruins parted ways. Bergeron may have slowed slightly but he remains among the NHL’s elite two-way forwards and the Bruins’ first-line center. I daresay management has a strong desire to keep him in the fold beyond this season.

It’ll come down to what Bergeron seeks on his next contract. If he wants a deal beyond three years in length and demands a big raise over his current $6.875 million, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will thank him for his years of service and bid him good luck in his future endeavors. If Sweeney low-balls Bergeron with a one-year deal at a considerable pay cut, the Bruins captain will walk.

I don’t see either scenario unfolding. The two sides agreed to shelve contracts talks until the season is over. Bergeron’s made no secret of his love of being a Bruin and playing in Boston. I can see them working out a two-year deal with an annual cap hit between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien wonders what it’ll take for the San Jose Sharks to rebuild, rather than retool after how this season went down for them. He believes they can only blame so much on bad luck, pointing out that Pacific Division rivals such as the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights could be sturdier next season.

O’Brien pointed out the Sharks still missed the playoffs this season despite career years from rising stars like Timo Meier and bounce-back performances from veterans like Erik Karlsson and Logan Couture. He wondered how much of their failure to reach the postseason can be laid at the feet of head coach Bob Boughner.

Given Doug Wilson’s resignation as general manager, O’Brien speculates the only rebuild could come in the front office. They might have to shed some salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Mario Ferraro and recently-acquired goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.

O’Brien suggested trading Meier, a restricted free agent next summer who’ll be in line for a raise over his current $6 million annual cap hit, if they wanted to jump-start a rebuild, along with attempting to move Couture and Brent Burns if they don’t want to be part of a rebuild. He also wondered if they would attempt to buy out Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As O’Brien pointed out, Sharks ownership isn’t interested in a rebuild. Whoever takes over from Wilson as general manager will have to find a way to retool the roster into a playoff contender. That could involve replacing Boughner as head coach.

Retooling the roster won’t be easy with veteran core players like Couture, Burns and Karlsson carrying expensive contracts with no-move or no-trade clauses. We can rule out the possibility of Meier hitting the trade block this summer. Buying out Vlasic will be expensive for next season ($3.687 million) and in 2024-25 ($4.187 million) and 2025-26 ($5.187 million) before dropping to a more affordable $1.687 million annually over the remaining four years.

The Sharks will have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to free up cap room for guys like Ferraro, Kahkonen and unrestricted free agent Alexander Barabanov. Fortunately, they won’t break the bank. Trade candidates could include a goalie like James Reimer or Adin Hill, winger Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – January 29, 2022

Check out the latest on Matthew Tkachuk, Tomas Hertl, and Timo Meier plus some suggested backup goalie candidates for the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE FLAMES RE-SIGN TKACHUK AND BOOST THEIR ROSTER?

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford and Hailey Salvian examined the options facing Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk when he becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. It will cost the Flames $9 million to qualify his rights. He’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images).

The Flames are likely looking for a long-term contract between $9 million and $10 million annually. They wonder if a $10 million annual average value on an eight-year deal would get the job done.

It’s assumed Tkachuk would join the St. Louis Blues (his hometown club) one day if he doesn’t stay with the Flames on a long-term deal. However, sources say he’d also have interest in the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and New York Rangers to name a few.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane believes Flames management should be in “go-for-it” mode given the uncertainty over the futures of Tkachuk and pending UFA winger Johnny Gaudreau.

He feels they need to bolster their secondary scoring and their blueline depth. Trade rumors linked them to Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and Seattle Kraken winger Jordan Eberle. There’s also speculation about a possible reunion with former captain and current Kraken blueliner Mark Giordano.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Flames with $50.2 million invested in 11 players for 2022-23. They have sufficient cap space to re-sign Tkachuk and Gaudreau but those moves would quickly eat up around $20 million of it, leaving little room to re-sign Andrew Mangiapane, Oliver Kylington and fill out the remainder of the lineup. It could come down to Tkachuk or Gaudreau depending on how much they’re willing to pay on a long-term deal.

The Flames currently have over $5.5 million in trade deadline cap space so there’s some wiggle room to add to their roster this season. Whether they’ll follow Macfarlane’s advice this season remains to be seen. They’re currently jockeying for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference and could go from buyers to sellers if they fall further out of contention by the March trade deadline

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SHARKS?

THE ATHLETIC: Corey Masisak wondered what the San Jose Sharks will do with defenseman Erik Karlsson sidelined until at least mid-March following surgery on his forearm earlier this week. With a tough stretch of games coming up in their schedule and in a tight battle for the final Western Conference wild-card berth, they’ll have to figure out if they’ll be buyers, sellers or stand pat at the trade deadline.

If the Sharks buy, they could pursue a top-six winger and a defenseman to help their blueline while Karlsson remains sidelined. Selling could mean shopping UFA center Tomas Hertl for a significant return involving draft picks and prospects.

The following day, Masisak’s colleague Eric Duhatschek was asked in a mailbag segment if they would also trade winger Timo Meier if they go into sell mode at the trade deadline. A favorable arbitration ruling in the Evander Kane case could provide the Sharks with sufficient space to sign both to long-term extensions.

With Meier signed through 2022-23 and slated to become an RFA with arbitration rights next summer, Duhatschek believes the Sharks will move heaven and earth to keep him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The next month will determine the Sharks’ path leading up to deadline day. Hertl has expressed a willingness to stay and that could be possible if they get significant cap relief from terminating Kane’s contract. If not, they could be forced to part with him at the deadline if they’re out of playoff contention rather than lose him for nothing.

LATEST PENGUINS SPECULATION

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Earlier this week, Dan Kingerski examined some potential backup goaltending options for the Penguins. With Louis Domingue week-to-week with an injured foot, their current roster option remains Casey DeSmith, who has struggled this season.

Affordable trade options could include the Florida Panthers Jonas Johansson, Buffalo Sabres’ Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators Anton Forsberg and the LA Kings’ Garret Sparks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johansson could be available. His recent emergence from COVID protocol forced the Panthers to send Spencer Knight to the minors because he’s waiver exempt.

The Sabres’ banged-up goalie corps likely means they’ll hang onto Anderson until some of the others get healthier. I don’t see the Kings parting with Sparks while they’re jockeying for a playoff spot. They’ll want him as insurance in case of injury to Jonathan Quick or Cal Petersen.

There’s speculation the Senators are getting calls from other clubs interested in Forsberg. Perhaps the Penguins are among them. However, they could prefer to hang onto him and attempt to re-sign him to a multi-year deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2022

A record night for Timo Meier, the Blues retire Chris Pronger’s number, an update on Carey Price, the stars of the week are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier set a personal and franchise record with a five-goal performance in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Tomas Hertl collected four assists and Erik Karlsson had three as the Sharks (44 points) opened a four-point lead over the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier is the fifth player in the past 25 years to score five goals in a game, joining Mika Zibanejad (2020), Patrik Laine (2018), Johan Franzen (2011) and Marian Gaborik (2007). The last player to tally six goals was Hall-of-Famer Darryl Sittler in 1976.

The Colorado Avalanche extended their home winning streak to 14 games by downing the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on a shootout goal by Mikko Rantanen. Pavel Francouz made 25 saves for the Avalanche after Darcy Kuemper left the game midway through the second period with a head injury following a collision with Wild winger Jordan Greenway. Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each had a goal and an assist in regulation. Kirill Kaprizov tallied twice for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche moved into first overall in the Western Conference with 53 points. With 47 points, the Wild holds the first wild-card spot.

Jason Zucker scored twice and Jake Guentzel tallied as the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 3-0 deficit to down the Vegas Golden Knights 5-3, handing the latter their fifth loss in their last six games. Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapanen each collected two assists as the Penguins have won 13 of their last 15 contests to move into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 51 points. The Golden Knights (48 points) sit in first place in the Pacific Division with a three-point lead over the Kings.

The St. Louis Blues beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on the night they retired former captain Chris Pronger’s No. 44. Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev each scored two goals and collected two assists while Ryan O’Reilly had a three-point performance. Both clubs have 51 points but the Blues moved ahead of the Predators into second place in the Western Conference standings with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pronger spent nine of his 18 NHL seasons with the Blues, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy and James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1999-2000. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015 and was named as one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history in 2017.

New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 26 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, handing the latter their eighth straight defeat. Brock Nelson had a goal and an assist for the Isles, who’ve won five of their last seven contests.

Dylan Larkin scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to lead the Detroit Red Wings over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

The Seattle Kraken snapped a nine-game losing skid by dropping the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on shootout goals by Ryan Donato and Joonas Donskoi. Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves.

A three-point performance by Nick Schmaltz gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, giving the latter their sixth straight loss. The sad-sack Canadiens are dead last in the overall standings with seven wins and 19 points in 37 games.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they announced goaltender Carey Price will have to restart rehabilitation on his surgically repaired knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in the offseason but the week-long break due to COVID-19 earlier this month that closed the club’s practice facility put him back at square one in his rehab. There is no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be very surprised if Price returns to action before the end of this season. His rehab was also delayed by a month earlier in this campaign after spending four weeks in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.

This should also put the kibosh on that silly speculation suggesting teams in need of a proven starting goalie (hi, there, Edmonton Oilers!) would try to acquire Price before the trade deadline. His hefty contract and full no-movement clause made moving him almost impossible. The uncertain deadline for his return should kill off that slim chance.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 16, 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, that will mollify critics who believe Marchand got screwed by being passed over for the 2022 All-Star Game (end sarcasm mode).

TSN: Ottawa Senators forward Connor Brown will be sidelined at least three weeks with a broken jaw.

SPORTSNET: Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas, Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and Detroit Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss are among the latest players to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Seattle Kraken claimed Karson Kuhlman off waivers from the Bruins.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 3, 2021

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff apologizes to Kyle Beach & addresses his role in the Blackhawks scandal, the Penguins and Wild GM Bill Guerin face a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault by a former minor-league coach, plus game recaps & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHEVELDAYOFF APOLOGIZES TO BEACH, ADDRESSES HIS ROLE IN BLACKHAWKS SCANDAL

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets general manager Kyle Cheveldayoff apologized to Kyle Beach during a video press conference yesterday for the alleged sexual abuse he suffered while with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 at the hands of the club’s then-video coach. He was accompanied by Jets governor and co-owner Mark Chipman.

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff (NHL.com).

Cheveldayoff was the Blackhawks assistant GM at the time but maintained he had limited knowledge of what happened to Beach. He said the system failed the young forward, adding no one should have to endure what he did.

The Jets GM said the details of the alleged incidents were unclear to him at the time, claiming he only learned the full information earlier this year. He was absolved of wrongdoing last week by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman as having been a “minor player” in the meeting of Blackhawks executives to discuss the incident. Cheveldayoff said it was his belief the allegations would be handled by his superiors.

Chipman expressed his full support of his general manager. He believes Cheveldayoff would have acted to help Beach had he known the full details of the allegations. Both men pledged they would do more going forward to be part of the solution league-wide to prevent future occurrences of abuse. Cheveldayoff said he’s been in touch with former player and sexual assault survivor Sheldon Kennedy and will be participating in Kennedy’s Respect in Sport program.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff and Chipman got emotional at times during that press conference. Both were commended by some in the media for what came across as a heartfelt apology and clarification of Cheveldayoff’s role with the Blackhawks at the time of the allegations.

Cheveldayoff’s involvement was limited to that one meeting with the Blackhawks executives, leaving him with the impression it had more to do with harassment involving text messages and unwanted advances. Nevertheless, some pundits feel there remain some unanswered questions and details about Cheveldayoff’s role in the coverup and his ongoing insistence that he knew nothing about what really happened to Kyle Beach. Time will tell if those questions are fully answered.

TSN: Rick Westhead (whose coverage of Beach’s story brought the Blackhawks scandal to light) reports Erin Skalde and husband Jarrod Skalde have filed a sexual assault lawsuit against former Pittsburgh Penguins minor-league coach Clark Donatelli, Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin and Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle.

Jarrod Skalde and Donatelli were former coaches of the Penguins’ AHL franchise in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The suit alleges Donatelli allegedly sexually assaulted Mrs. Skalde during a road trip in November 2018, accusing Guerin, Lemieux and Burkle of engaging in a coverup of the incident. The Skaldes also filed an earlier lawsuit against the Penguins claiming they fired him on May 5, 2020, for complaining to the team about the sexual assault of his wife. Guerin, who was recently named general manager of the 2022 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team, is being investigated by the U.S. Center for SportSafe following Skalde’s complaint filed on Oct. 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lawsuit claims Guerin told Skalde to keep quiet about the alleged incident when he brought it to Guerin’s attention seven months later. The Penguins released a statement claiming they took immediate action upon being notified of the allegation in June 2019, conducting a full investigation within 72 hours and Donatelli resigned from the organization. They also said Skalde remained in his job for an additional year until the team made staff reductions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice, Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists and Jack Campbell turned in a 26-save shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0. The Leafs (5-4-1) have won three straight while the Golden Knights record slips to 4-5-0.

The Montreal Canadiens downed the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 for their third win of the season. Jake Allen made 22 saves for the shutout while Nick Suzuki tallied his first goal of the season and assisted on two others. Wings forwards Dylan Larkin (undisclosed) and Tyler Bertuzzi (COVID protocol) missed this game.

Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin left the game in the first period after being struck in the head by a shot from teammate Brett Kulak. He went to hospital but has returned to the team following the game. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens announced goaltender Carey Price will be emerging from the NHL’s player assistance program on Nov. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens offered no timetable for Price’s return to action. He underwent offseason knee surgery and was expected to be ready for the start of the season before going into the player assistance program. It could take several weeks before he makes his season debut.

Philadelphia Flyers netminder Carter Hart kicked out 29 shots for his first shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each had a goal and an assist. The Coyotes are winless in their first 10 games (0-9-1) of this season. Earlier in the day, they announced Nick Schmaltz would miss at least three-four weeks with an upper-body injury.

The Anaheim Ducks got 28 saves from John Gibson for a 4-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils. Troy Terry scored twice to extend his points streak to nine games while Ryan Getzlaf collected three points. Struggling Ducks winger Maxime Comtois was a healthy scratch from this contest.

Kirill Kaprizov tallied his first goal of the season in overtime as the Minnesota Wild nipped the Ottawa Senators 5-4. Marcus Foligno tallied twice for the Wild while Drake Batherson and Josh Norris each had a goal and an assist for the Senators.

A shootout goal by Mark Scheifele lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars. He also collected an assist in regulation to extend his points streak to seven games. Stars center Tyler Seguin picked up a goal and an assist.

The Nashville Predators dropped the Calgary Flames 3-2 on an overtime goal by Matt Duchene, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Duchene also picked an assist on a goal by Filip Forsberg.

J.T. Miller scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Vancouver Canucks overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the New York Rangers 3-2. Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.

San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl scored two goals and added an assist to lead his club to a 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Skinner tallied twice for the Sabres. The Sharks played without Timo Meier, who was added to their COVID protocol list.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen were the NHL’s three stars for October 2021. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider was named rookie of the month.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is sidelined with an upper-body injury unrelated to the offseason medical procedure that forced him to miss preseason play.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues forward Kyle Clifford was added to their COVID protocol list yesterday.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – September 8, 2021

Some suggested moves for the Sharks, the latest Senators speculation, and the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien believes the San Jose Sharks should consider some trades as one way to reverse their declining fortunes. He feels they should consider all options with the exception of potential impact prospects such as William Eklund.

San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).

That includes considering offers for Tomas Hertl. An unrestricted free agent next summer, the 28-year-old center would be expensive to re-sign. O’Brien suggests selling high on Hertl. His three-team trade list would make that difficult but he might not want to linger in this bad situation for a full season.

O’Brien also suggests shopping Timo Meier. His inconsistent play over the past couple of years could affect his trade value but the 24-year-old winger is better than he looks, maybe a lot better.

Moving expensive veterans like Evander Kane, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Erik Karlsson would be harder to do. Nevertheless, O’Brien feels they should consider it if an opportunity arises to trade one of them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hertl is the most likely Sharks trade candidate this season. Despite his limited trade clause, there would be considerable interest in him. He would likely widen his trade destinations for an opportunity to skate on a contender.

The only real concern is his injury history. The Sharks might prefer waiting until the March trade deadline when his value could be at its highest but that comes with the risk that he could be sidelined again by that point.

Meier’s struggles will affect his trade value but that would improve with a bounce-back performance this season. On the other hand, that could also make the Sharks keen to retain him.

Kane’s off-ice antics and his growing reputation as locker room poison make him untradeable. Vlasic’s decline and his $7 million annual average value through 2025-26 makes the 34-year-old defenseman a tough sell even if he were willing to waive his no-movement clause. Karlsson’s injury woes over the past several years, his no-movement clause and $11.5 million cap hit through 2026-27 ensures he’ll be a Shark for a long time.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators remain focused on signing Brady Tkachuk to a long-term contract extension. There’s unconfirmed speculation they’ve tabled an eight-year deal worth $8 million annually to the 21-year-old winger.

There’s also a rumor the Tkachuk camp seeks a short-term extension but no one knows where that’s coming from. He’s not sharing his contract status with teammates or friends. Despite reports to the contrary, negotiations are still going well.

The Senators might deal with Logan Brown’s situation before training camp opens. The 23-year-old center didn’t sign his qualifying offer and there’s talk he could head to Europe if he’s not traded. He’s eligible for waivers this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of time remains for the Senators to sign Tkachuk and sort out Brown’s situation before training camp opens.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan denied a recent rumor floated on Twitter claiming Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun was on the trade block. “This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Coyotes,” writes Morgan. “They want to build around (Chychrun).”

The Coyotes have to find a replacement at center for Christian Dvorak following his trade to Montreal last weekend. They also need to add a goaltender and a defenseman.

Morgan believes general manager Bill Armstrong could look to the waiver wire. Several teams in tough situations might end up exposing players they would otherwise prefer to keep.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong spent this summer shipping out veterans for draft picks and prospects as he commenced his rebuild of the Coyotes’ roster. It’ll be interesting to see how he plugs those gaps in his lineup for the coming season. Waivers are one option but he could also go the trade route, perhaps by using some of those picks or prospects as bait. Perhaps he gives the Senators a call about Logan Brown.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – August 3, 2021

A look at the teams that could afford to acquire Jack Eichel plus the latest on the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines which teams can actually afford to trade for Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. That means being able to absorb his $10 million annual average value for the next five seasons and possess sufficient young assets to meet the Sabres’ asking price.

The New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks top Gretz’s list. While the Kings have less cap space following the acquisitions of Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault, Gretz feels that’s never stopped a team from dealing for a player it badly wants.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gretz points out the Rangers have some short-term raises coming up for Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad but feels they should have sufficient flexibility to make it work. However, Shesterkin is projected to come in at around $5.75 million, Zibanejad could cost $9 million and Fox could hit $10 million annually after winning the Norris Trophy last season. One of them would have to move in a cost-cutting deal for Eichel and it would probably be Zibanejad, who’s a year away from UFA eligibility.

The Kings have just over $2.8 million in cap space after taking on Arvidsson, Danault and defenseman Alex Edler. If they were serious about Eichel I don’t think they would’ve added those three. They’re probably out of the Eichel sweepstakes.

The Ducks appear the best fit but that depends on whether general manager Bob Murray sees Eichel as a key piece in the club’s rebuild. The ongoing concern over the center’s herniated disc in his neck could also be an issue for the Ducks and the other clubs linked to him.

Gretz believes trading Eichel to either the Vegas Golden Knights or Minnesota Wild would make sense as both teams need a No. 1 center. However, it would take some work to pull off a deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres’ asking price from the Golden Knights was said to be winger Reilly Smith, promising center Peyton Krebs, young defenseman Nicolas Hague and a first-round pick. The Sabres would also have to pick up half of Eichel’s cap hit to make this work.

Gretz points out the Wild’s cap constraints for 2022-23 and 2023-24 from the recent buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter could make it difficult to take on Eichel’s full cap hit. Wild GM Bill Guerin is also said to be reluctant to part with most of his club’s top young prospects.

The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators are Gretz’s wild-card teams. Eichel to the Bruins could be a good fit but they lack cap space and depth in tradeable assets. The latter point is also an issue for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks seem to think Eichel to the Bruins is doable. I’ve yet to see anyone come up with a realistic trade scenario that would address the cap issue or the lack of good young assets necessary to meet the Sabres’ asking price.

The Predators, meanwhile, have $16 million tied up in centers Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene. Unless they can find a way to get one of those players off their books, I doubt we’ll see Eichel suiting up with Nashville.

LATEST SHARKS SPECULATION

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman quashing a rumor linking Sharks winger Timo Meier to the New Jersey Devils. “Those were flatly denied to me,” said Friedman. “Someone said you’re way off, don’t go down that road.” Peng cited sources saying other clubs aren’t enamored with Meier’s contract. He’s got two years remaining on his deal with an annual average value of $6 million.

Peng also noted Friedman indicated the Sharks are believed to have an interest in Christian Dvorak. The 25-year-old Arizona Coyotes center has four years left on his contract worth $4.45 million annually. However, Friedman doesn’t believe the Sharks are engaged in trade talks with the Coyotes. He also linked the Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers among those interested in Dvorak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Sharks GM Doug Wilson believes Meier can regain the 30-goal, 66-point form of 2018-19. As for Dvorak, the rebuilding Coyotes will likely want draft picks plus a quality prospect or a young NHL-ready player in return.