Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 20, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 20, 2021

The Blackhawks could have an interest in Jack Eichel, the Coyotes could try to trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson again, and the latest on Matthew Tkachuk in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Chicago Blackhawks are among the clubs with an interest in Jack Eichel, who is expected to be traded by the Buffalo Sabres later this summer. Brooks believes any offer from the Blackhawks for the Sabres captain must include young center Kirby Dach and their first-round pick (11th overall) in this year’s draft.

Other clubs believed to have an interest in Eichel include the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and perhaps the New York Rangers. Brooks also reports the Blackhawks are thought to be interested in Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones and Carolina Hurricanes blueliner Dougie Hamilton, who could sign with the Seattle Kraken.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger examined the potential pluses and minuses for the Blue Jackets if they were to acquire Eichel. His neck injury, desire for experimental surgery to treat the condition, $50 million remaining on his contract and the high cost of acquiring him are the drawbacks. The upside, however, is the addition of a hopefully healthy elite 24-year-old superstar center in his playing prime.

Hedger points out the Sabres need goaltenders. The Jackets could include Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo plus two of their three first-round picks in this year’s draft (including the fifth-overall selection) as part of a package offer. It would be surprising, however, if the Jackets parted with that fifth-overall pick.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch is dismissive of speculation suggesting the Senators could pursue Eichel. While they could use him, his $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years plus the Sabres’ high asking price makes no sense for them at this point in their rebuild.

Garrioch instead suggested Anaheim’s Adam Henrique if the Ducks absorb part of his $5.825 million AAV. Henrique has strong chemistry with Senators winger Connor Brown playing for Canada at the recent World Championships. Other options could include Calgary’s Sean Monahan, Montreal’s Phillip Danault, Chicago’s Dylan Strome, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks suggests the Blackhawks’ interest in Eichel could be tied to the uncertainty over the health of captain Jonathan Toews, who missed this season battling a mysterious illness. He’s expected to return to action next season but Toews and the Hawks are keeping silent about his condition.

With Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw on permanent long-term injury reserve, the Blackhawks will have nearly $11 million in cap relief if they wish to add a high-salaried player this summer. One can’t fault them for exploring the cost of acquiring Eichel if doubt remains about Toews’ condition. However, recent speculation has tied them to Jones and Hamilton given their need for a top-two defenseman. Those two would be more affordable to acquire than Eichel.

The Jackets have bee been searching for a true first-line center for some time. They have the cap space, those extra first-round picks and the goaltending depth to draw upon as trade bait for an Eichel offer. However, the Sabres could want that fifth-overall pick plus another player or a top prospect included in the deal.

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

I agree with Garrioch that it’s nonsense to link the Senators to Eichel. Their young players showed considerable improvement last season. It would be wise to maintain their current pace for another season and see how they develop. The Sens should pursue an experienced center this summer but will likely target more affordable options.

COYOTES ATTEMPTING TO TRADE EKMAN-LARSSON AGAIN

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Arizona Coyotes will try again to trade defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. They attempted to deal their 29-year-old captain last fall but he only agreed to waive his no-movement clause for the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.

Friedman said the two sides will take a different approach this time. The Coyotes will check the trade market. If they get a suitable offer they’ll bring it to Ekman-Larsson and he can decide if he’s comfortable with it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s declining performance and his hefty $8.25 million annual average value for the next six years will make him difficult to move. The Coyotes could be forced to absorb some salary or take back an expensive contract to make this work.

SHOULD THE BLUES PURSUE MATTHEW TKACHUK?

STLTODAY.COM: Ben Frederickson believes the St. Louis Blues should make a pitch for Matthew Tkachuk if the Calgary Flames are crazy enough to trade him. He feels the 23-year-old winger could help the Blues find some of their missing spark with his gritty offensive style of play.

Tkachuk has one year remaining on his current contract worth $7 million and becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Frederickson believes he’d be worth sacrificing Jordan Kyrou’s scoring potential or their first-round pick (16th overall ) in this year’s draft or finding the necessary cap space for a long-term deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames general manager Brad Treliving has indicated he’s going to explore all his options this offseason. That includes possibly trading Tkachuk. So far, however, there’s no indication the young winger’s on the trade block. Most of the Flames trade speculation involves Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Frederickson is correct in his assessment of the Flames’ expensive asking price for Tkachuk. Nevertheless, there will be teams willing to pay it to get him. The Blues could be among the suitors but they might not win a bidding war for his services.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 17, 2021

The Jack Eichel trade chatter is heating up plus the latest on Sam Reinhart in today’s NHL rumor mill.

EICHEL TRADE CHATTER HEATING UP

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports hearing trade conversations between the Buffalo Sabres and other teams regarding Jack Eichel are getting “serious and intense.” He believes Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams will want a first-round pick in this year’s draft as part of the return.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

LeBrun lists the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers among the clubs as potential landing spots.

WGR 550: Franklin Heinzmann suggests the Ducks could be the ideal trade partner for the Sabres. He wondered if they would offer up promising center Trevor Zegras and the third-overall pick in this year’s draft as part of the return for Eichel.

OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes the Ottawa Senators should also be among the Eichel suitors. He points out they desperately need a big, talented center.

The price for Eichel, who’s coming off a down season and a neck injury, will never be better. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league, the Senators can afford his $10 million annual salary-cap hit for the remaining five seasons of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt teams calling the Sabres to inquire about the asking price for Eichel. First-line centers in their playing prime don’t become available every day. They’re also certain to be interested in his ongoing treatment for a herniated disk in his neck. After all, if you’re going to part with some prized assets for a $10 million superstar, you better be sure he won’t have any lingering health issues that could hamper his performance.

The Kings seem the best fit in terms of cap space and tradeable assets. They’re also reportedly seeking two top-six forwards this summer. In my recent conversation with John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor, however, he said it’s believed they’re seeking established scorers around 27-years-old with two or three years remaining on their contracts. In other words, they want transitional players to buy more development time for their promising youngsters.

Everything I’ve seen and heard about the Ducks in recent weeks points toward rebuilding with younger players like Zegras. GM Bob Murray attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois earlier this season, but that was when he still considered his club a potential playoff contender. I could be wrong but I think it’s a different story now.

I agree with Brennan that the Senators are well-positioned to make a competitive bid for Eichel. However, Dorion and his staff like the potential they’re seeing from their club over the last two seasons. I’d put them in the “long shot” category.

Rick Carpiniello, The Athletic’s Rangers writer, said he’s heard they’re “not likely, or much less likely now”, to pursue Eichel. He didn’t elaborate but I suspect that’s due to the recent front-office shake-up and their hiring of Gerard Gallant earlier this week as their new head coach.

The Wild need an established first-line center but I’m not sure GM Bill Guerin will part with the assets necessary to get Eichel following his club’s solid performance this season. He could consider more affordable options in the trade and free-agent markets. The Flyers seem more focused on pursuing a top-pairing right-side defenseman than on landing a first-line center.

With nearly $25 million in cap space, the Blue Jackets have the room to take on Eichel’s cap hit, and that will include signing restricted free agent winger Patrik Laine to a new contract.

The Jackets have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres need goaltenders and the Jackets are reportedly willing to move Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins to a return that addresses other roster needs. Perhaps there’s a fit there. Heck, maybe they include Laine in the deal if he proves difficult to sign to a long-term extension.

COULD THE CANUCKS PURSUE SAM REINHART?

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes it would be worthwhile for the Vancouver Canucks to kick the tires on the Sabres’ Sam Reinhart. A versatile forward who can play center or wing, the 25-year-old North Vancouver native wants out of Buffalo and wants to move west.

There’s a buzz among Canucks fans about potentially parting with the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft to acquire Reinhart. GM Jim Benning has indicated he’s going to keep his options open with that pick, including shopping it for a good young player.

SPORTSNET 650: Chris Johnston believes Reinhart can be a top-six contributor for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. He feels he could be very effective in a second-line role behind an all-star first line.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Benning took a lot of flak last year for letting Tyler Toffoli depart to Montreal via free agency. Acquiring Reinhart could atone for that move.

Reinhart to Vancouver seems like a great fit. The Sabres would be very interested if Benning came calling with that first-round pick, though they could also ask for something else to be included in the deal.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 16, 2021

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

LATEST EICHEL SPECULATION

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

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

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

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

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

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images)

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

UPDATE ON HAMILTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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










NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 11, 2021

A look at what could be ahead for the Avalanche in the offseason, more Bruins speculation and the latest on Jack Eichel in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE AVALANCHE?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski observes the Colorado Avalanche face some big free-agent decisions in the offseason. Captain Gabriel Landeskog, Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer, and winger Brandon Saad are among those slated to become unrestricted free agents. Defenseman Cale Makar, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent in line for a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

The Avs also risk losing a good defenseman to the Seattle Kraken in next month’s expansion draft. Even if sidelined Erik Johnson agrees to waive his no-movement clause, someone like Ryan Graves or Jacob MacDonald could be left exposed if they opt to protect three defensemen.

Head coach Jared Bednar could be under the microscope after failing to get the Avs past the second round. He has a year remaining on his contract and could return to finish that season.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic needs to build a tougher roster and replace Bednar as head coach, citing the latter’s inability to make strategic roster adjustments against the Vegas Golden Knights during their second-round series. “The Avs are pretty, not gritty,” opined Kiszla among his colorful descriptions of their lack of postseason toughness.

Ryan O’Halloran agreed with Kiszla in less hyperbolic terms. He feels the Avs aren’t in the same depths as the early-era Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals. Nevertheless, he believes “they need to get bigger on defense and deeper at center” to beat the Golden Knights next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh believes the Avalanche must address how long and for much they’re willing to sign Landeskog for. He also thinks paying Makar $10 million annually is worthwhile and considers it too risky to let Grubauer walk via free agency. He also recommends they explore creating cap space through trades and add some low-cost veterans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic did a fine job building the current roster. He must now figure out how to get this team to the next level without the salary-cap flexibility he enjoyed in recent years.

Yes, the Avalanche needs more depth at center and size on defense. Yes, they need to get tougher. However, Sakic and his staff must avoid overreacting as the 2010 version of the Capitals did following their first-round upset by the Montreal Canadiens. Those missteps set the Caps back several seasons before they finally won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

Landeskog, 28, will seek a substantial pay raise over his current $5.57 million cap hit. Some might scoff at Makar earning $10 million annually but his rise to Norris Trophy finalist in just three seasons provides his camp with sufficient grounds to seek that much. Sakic could try to go the bridge deal route but that seems unlikely given Makar’s talent. Grubauer’s Vezina nod this season also works in his favor as he pursues a big bump over his $3.33 million AAV.

Sakic has shown in the past a willingness to make bold moves to improve his roster. We should expect he’ll do the same this summer as he attempts to retain his core free agents and address his roster needs.

He could use one of the defensemen he risks losing in the expansion draft as a trade chip. Perhaps he’ll move a skilled blueliner like Samuel Girard for a bigger physical rearguard. Maybe he shops center Nazem Kadri to free up cap space to add a tough, cool-headed two-way replacement.

MORE BRUINS SPECULATION

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Matt Porter wonders where the Bruins go from here after falling short against the New York Islanders in the second round.

His optimistic forecast regarding Tuukka Rask has the goaltender signing a short-term deal between $5 million and $6 million, undergoing whatever offseason surgery he requires and gradually returning to the lineup next season. He also suggests signing Taylor Hall to a five-year deal worth $6 million annually and David Krejci for a year at around $5 million. The latter would give the Bruins time to determine if Jack Studnicka or Charlie Coyle can play at second-line center or if they need to bring in someone for that role.

Porter also speculates Jake DeBrusk could be shopped for a helpful secondary player. The lack of quality left-side defense options via free agency could see them bring back Mike Reilly if another club doesn’t offer to double his $1.5 million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggests the Bruins should transition Jeremy Swayman to the starter’s job but bring back Rask on a one-year deal worth between $3 million and $5 million. It’s a sensible suggestion but that depends on whether Rask is prepared to accept the backup/mentor role with the Bruins or look elsewhere for a starter’s job.

Hall was a good fit with the Bruins and he really wants to stay but that depends on how much he wants on his next deal and for how long. I think Krejci’s open to returning for another year or two for a lesser cap hit, perhaps around $5 million.

The Bruins were reportedly reluctant to trade DeBrusk this season over fear he’d regain his scoring touch elsewhere. However, I think they should explore the trade market while he still has some decent trade value. It’ll be interesting to see if Reilly is willing to stick in Boston for perhaps a little less than market value.

LATEST ON JACK EICHEL

WGR550: Franklin Heinzmann cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s recent appearance on “The Instigators” discussing possible trade interest in Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.

Friedman believes the Sabres want to move on from their captain. He said the teams around the league with interest in Eichel are trying to convince GM Kevyn Adams to move the unhappy center sooner rather than later. Friedman feels Adams should set the marketplace himself rather than be influenced by those clubs.

The Sabres GM could try to play the interested clubs against each other to drive up Eichel’s trade value. Some teams, however, are pointing to the center’s neck injury to suggest Adams isn’t dealing from a position of strength.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman didn’t indicate which teams could be calling the Sabres. I’ve posted up a list of potential teams in my latest column for The Hockey News, including several suggested by Friedman last month.

If the Sabres trade Eichel during the offseason it’ll likely happen just before or during the opening day of this year’s NHL draft on July 23. Adams will use the next several weeks to evaluate the clubs with the most interest while also gauging Eichel’s ongoing treatment.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 8, 2021

An early look at possible offseason moves by the Jets, the Sabres are getting calls about Jack Eichel, plus the latest on the Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE JETS?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski believes the Winnipeg Jets must focus on addressing their defense in the offseason. They’re expected to protect Josh Morrissey, Dylan DeMelo and Neal Pionk in the expansion draft, meaning they risk losing Logan Stanley to the Seattle Kraken.

He pondered if they’ll finally give more playing time to promising blueliners like Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola or stick with stopgap measures Tucker Poolman, Derek Forbort and Jordie Benn. He also wondered if they’ll use their $14.9 million in cap space to bolster their top-four.

SPORTSNET: Ken Wiebe also weighed in on the Jets’ potential offseason plans. He doubts head coach Paul Maurice or general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be shown the door, but believes the roster requires an upgrade.

Like Wyshynski, Wiebe believes they must enhance the defense corps. He also cited promising youngsters Heinola and Samberg could be ready for full-time duty. Despite the emergence of Stanley this season, the Jets could go shopping for an experienced blueliner via the trade market or free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once their strength, the defense corps has become a weakness for the Jets. It’s been an ongoing issue for the last two years and cannot go unaddressed for a third season.

Heinola and Samberg should help, as could Stanley if he’s not snapped up by the Kraken. Nevertheless, they also need an experienced top-four defenseman, preferably one who skates on the right side.

Teams are reportedly calling the Buffalo Sabres about captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

TEAMS CALLING SABRES ABOUT EICHEL

TSN: Darren Dreger reports teams are contacting the Buffalo Sabres expressing interest in several of their players, including team captain Jack Eichel. Dreger believes those conversations will increase ahead of the NHL draft weekend on July 23-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel raised eyebrows last month suggesting a “disconnect” between himself and management over treatment for a herniated disc in his neck. That generated considerable speculation over whether he’ll be traded this summer.

The report also indicated there’s been speculation about the futures of Sabres center Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Reinhart, a restricted free agent, was noncommittal about his future in Buffalo during his end-of-season press conference. Ristolainen, meanwhile, said he’d be fine with a trade or remaining a Sabre. Blueliner Colin Miller could also draw interest in the trade market.

Buffalo fans would probably love to see their club shed the expensive contracts of Jeff Skinner ($9 million annual average value through 2026-27) and Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), but I doubt they’ll be moved in an offseason with a flattened salary cap.

LATEST ON THE PENGUINS

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports a well-placed source within the Penguins organization said the club intends to protect goaltender Tristan Jarry and center Evgeni Malkin in next month’s expansion draft. Malkin has a no-movement clause but he’d only waive it to go to Florida, where he and his family reside.

Kingerski also indicated the Penguins seek a veteran goaltender with playoff experience and could have an eye on Toronto’s Frederik Andersen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins don’t seem to want to give up on Jarry. He could benefit from an experienced mentor to help him split the duties for the next year or two. Andersen’s critics will snort with laughter over the thought of him backing up Jarry but he does have a solid resume over most of his tenure in Toronto. He could also benefit from a lighter workload compared to what he endured with the Maple Leafs.

No surprise Malkin has no interest in waiving his NMC to go to Seattle. He’s made no secret of his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. While he might welcome a trade to the Florida Panthers, they have no reason to acquire him when they’re planning to pay captain Aleksander Barkov a lot of money to stay put.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2021

The latest on Mitch Marner, Seth Jones, Sam Reinhart and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS GM SAID HE WON’T MOVE MARNER BUT SPECULATION PERSISTS

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Mitch Marner won’t be part of any potential offseason roster changes. He defended Marner and Auston Matthews, adding that moving either of them would be foolish.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos acknowledged Dubas’ comments but believes rival general managers will be calling about Marner. He thinks the Leafs should listen to offers, especially if they’re coming from Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Traikos wondered if they could swap out Marner for Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, or Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, or Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas seems adamant about not trading Marner or Matthews. It would have to be a significant deal to pry Marner away from the Leafs. Maybe he’s willing to listen if Jones or Gibson or Eichel were pitched to him for Marner, but we don’t know if those offers will be made.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S RECENT “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes there will be plenty of interest in Jackets defenseman Seth Jones despite his unrestricted free agent eligibility next summer. He feels it could be a complex transaction. He thinks it could be “a trade and free agency at the same time” unless someone’s willing to offer up a major package for Jones as a playoff rental for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said before, interested clubs could want assurances Jones will sign a contract extension before signing off on a trade. He’ll be of more value in the trade market that way. Perhaps a sign-and-trade scenario takes place. Maybe the Jackets grant permission for rival general managers to speak with Jones’ agent about a new deal.

Speaking of the Jackets, Friedman believes they spoke to the Buffalo Sabres about Sam Reinhart. The Sabres are looking for goaltenders and could have interest in Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. He thinks these two clubs would make sensible trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart for Korpisalo or Merlikins could make sense for both clubs. As Friedman noted, however, there’s no guarantee that a deal takes place.

Friedman expects the Anaheim Ducks will try to make a big move this summer. They attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Blue Jackets before he was traded in January to the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pursuit of Dubois suggests Ducks GM Bob Murray will be in the market for a center. Aging captain Ryan Getzlaf is a UFA this summer. If he returns it won’t be in a top-six role.

Sources indicate league revenue for this season could be between $1.8 billion and $2 billion. Factor in money owed to the league by the players and the salary cap could remain static for several seasons, perhaps to 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman suggests that could mean offer-sheet thresholds could be lower than ever. I still don’t hold my breath waiting for one given how rarely that tactic is employed.