Could the Ducks end up moving players like John Gibson and Josh Manson this season? Could the Senators seek another center? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In his latest mailbag segment, Eric Stephens was asked about the speculation linking the Anaheim Ducks to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. He believes Ducks general manager Bob Murray had some level of talks with the Sabres but doubts he would part with Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale as part of the return. The Sabres asking price of four top assets for an injured player is another obstacle. Waiting could drive that price down.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s ongoing issues with the Sabres over treatment for a herniated disc in his neck and his hefty contract are also significant sticking points in any trade discussions. Murray would be wise not to part with Zegras or Drysdale if he’s planning to rebuild.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).
Stephens believes Ducks goaltender John Gibson has been frustrated by the club’s lack of progress over the past three seasons. It’s impossible to know, however, if Gibson will request a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson would draw plenty of interest in the trade market if he did ask to be moved or if Murray decided to shop him for a return of young assets. The 28-year-old’s contract could be a stumbling block. His annual average salary is $6.4 million through 2026-27 and he now has a 10-team no-trade list.
Stephens believes the Ducks have fielded offers for Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Adam Henrique or attempted to move some of them. A deal that would’ve sent Manson to the Winnipeg Jets was reportedly scuttled by Manson, who has a 12-team no-trade list. It’s believed teams were offering a first-round pick or a top prospect for Manson or Rakell, but the Ducks want both pieces.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on Manson, Lindholm and Rakell this season. They’re slated to become unrestricted free agents next summer. The trio could draw plenty of attention as the trade deadline approaches. Manson is the only one of the three with no-trade protection.
NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger believes the Ottawa Senators still need some veteran depth at center for the coming season. The departures of Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan leave the club thin at center. Promising Shane Pinto could help but he’d be another young center on the roster.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).
Vingan expects Ekholm to get a four-year deal worth around $6 million annually. He doesn’t anticipate the 32-year-old defenseman will drag out the process.
Forsberg’s negotiations, on the other hand, could get more complicated. The 27-year-old winger is in his playing prime as the Predators engage in a “competitive rebuild”. General manager David Poile will have to sell Forsberg on his short- and long-term plans for the Predators.
Poile must also decide Forsberg’s worth. He’s currently earning an annual cap hit of $6 million. While he’s the Preds’ most talented forward, he’s inconsistent and injury-prone.
Vingan believes Forsberg could get up to $8 million annually on the open market. He feels the Predators should avoid paying that much but it’s hard to see Forsberg accepting less than the $8 million annually being paid to teammates Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg’s contract situation will be worth following if he’s unsigned when the season begins. Vingan may be right about not paying him more than $8 million annually. However, having Johansen and Duchene each earning that much makes it difficult for Poile to justify paying Forsberg less.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing Forsberg’s name surface in this season’s rumor mill the longer he goes unsigned. That speculation could go into overdrive if the Predators are out of playoff contention as the trade deadline approaches.
Ekholm was the subject of intense trade chatter last season but that quickly died off as the Predators surged into a playoff spot in the weeks leading up to the April trade deadline. He seems keen to stay and Poile wants to keep him. I’ll be surprised if a new deal isn’t worked out before the season begins in October.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: With the Blackhawks bringing in additional depth and flexibility to their roster for this season, Ben Pope examined which players could become trade candidates.
Among the forwards, Dylan Strome could be shopped but that might not happen if captain Jonathan Toews isn’t ready to return to action in September and October. If that happens, Strome could get a second chance as a second-line center.
The Senators are linked to several notable centers, the Hurricanes could be looking for another top-six forward, and the Jets are eyeing a former Red Wing. Details in this edition of the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators are still trying to add a center or winger via trade or free agency. Defenseman Erik Brannstrom could be used as a trade chip to add a winger or another center in order to move someone to the wing.
San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl (NHL Images).
The Senators kicked tires on Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel but the asking price and contract are expensive. Internet rumors claim they’ve had talks with the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility.
New York Rangers center Ryan Strome could be a good fit if they acquire Eichel. The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to move Dylan Strome and the Senators are mildly interested. The Sens would like to move center Logan Brown as it hasn’t worked out for the two sides. They’d prefer to get a player in return rather than a future asset.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks could shop Hertl if he intends to test the market next summer. A rebuilding club like the Senators could seek assurances he’ll re-sign with them. Unless you’re a playoff contender interested in Hertl as a rental player it makes little sense for the Senators to waste assets on a player who could depart as a free agent soon afterward.
A deal for Dylan Strome seems possible. Earlier this month, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times speculated Strome could be a cost-cutting candidate to free up cap space for new contracts for Brandon Hagel and Alex Nylander. They’re already over the cap by $2.1 million. With Brent Seabrook off their books, they can only draw upon the $3.9 million of Andrew Shaw as long-term injury reserve cap relief.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Sara Civian was asked if the Carolina Hurricanes still need another top-six forward. She believes they do, adding they seem to be looking for one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes currently have over $12 million remaining. Assuming they spend up to $7 million on Svechnikov, there’s enough wiggle room to add another top-six forward. That depends, of course, on ownership’s willingness to spend toward the ceiling and which forward they target.
Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual average value is a lot to take on. They’ll have to ship out a salary in that deal, swing a separate cost-cutting move or convince the Blues to pick up part of his cap hit.
Hearing there is mutual interest between #NHLJets and former @DetroitRedWings F Evgeny Svechnikov. @spinohockey was on this earlier today. Svechnikov, who turns 25 in October, was the 19th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and has 5 G, 12 P in 41 NHL games. He’s a RW, shoots L.
Could the St. Louis Blues be closer to trading Vladimir Tarasenko? (NHL Images)
Having signed Saad for less than expected, perhaps Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will be more willing to retain part of Tarasenko’s $7.5 million annual cap hit. That could be enticing for the Islanders, who have $17.6 million in cap space but must also re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Beauvillier, 24, has also been mentioned as a trade candidate. The Islanders remain on Tarasenko’s list of preferred destinations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been quiet on the Islanders’ front. As usual, GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to tip his hand as to his plans for his RFAs or for UFAs Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas, though there’s plenty of conjecture suggesting he intends to re-sign them or already has them under contract but hasn’t officially announced them yet. There’s also talk he’s signing Zach Parise.
If the Isles are in the mix for Tarasenko the Blues must retain some salary and/or take back a contract as part of the return. Parting with an RFA like Beauvillier would also work but we don’t know if Armstrong has any interest in him.
The Hurricanes have almost $14 million in cap space but they must re-sign RFA winger Andrei Svechnikov. Owner Tom Dundon could prefer keeping the payroll as far below the $81.5 million cap as possible. With over $22 million in cap room and five more roster spots to fill, the Devils are best positioned to swing a deal for Tarasenko. However, they could be on his no-trade list.
THE LATEST ON EICHEL
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams feels no pressure to trade Jack Eichel. He explained he’ll make that move if he gets an offer that makes sense for his club but won’t ship out the 24-year-old center simply for the sake of doing so.
However, Vogl points out Eichel wants out and his agents’ only discussions with Adams center on trade requests. He feels Eichel can’t show up in training camp as captain as it would damage the fresh start with a young core. The Sabres GM still believes there’s a market for his captain.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders if Mika Zibanejad would accept a six-year contract extension from the Rangers worth between $9 million and $9.5 million annually. “Wouldn’t that be enough to put an end to the Jack Eichel narrative as relates to the Rangers?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of course Adams is going to publicly say he feels no pressure to move Eichel. He’s not going to admit that it could get difficult to move the unhappy center with the NHL Draft and the start of free agency behind them.
While Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit for the next five years and the Sabres’ high asking price are sticking points, his neck injury remains the main issue. If he was healthy, he’d probably be with another team (like the Rangers?) by now. But interested parties are understandably reluctant to part with assets for a player who might not be able to participate in a full schedule next season.
Stars GM Jim Nill said Bishop’s status for next season remains uncertain as he continues to recover from last fall’s knee surgery. The Stars could send Oettinger back to the AHL as he remains waiver-exempt but that might not be best for potentially the best healthy goalie in the organization. DeFranks speculates they could also shop Khudobin, who’s under contract for two more seasons at $3.33 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nill told DeFranks his club would wait to figure out their situation before opting to move one of their surplus goalies. Bishop’s career could be over if his surgically repaired knee isn’t up to the rigors of NHL action.
Oettinger is their goalie of the future coming off a solid NHL debut (11-8-7, 2.36 GAA, .911 SP) last season. Khudobin could be the odd man out here. There will be teams on the lookout for a goalie during training camp.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators could still try to add a center and a winger through a trade. They’re still in the mix for New York Rangers center Ryan Strome. They kicked tires on Jack Eichel but his contract and the asking price make that prohibitive. They could draw upon their blueline depth for trade bait. Victor Mete or Erik Brannstrom could become trade candidates if GM Pierre Dorion decides to go that route.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vensel reports a source said the Penguins aren’t looking to acquire Fleury. They’re still interested in upgrading their goaltending but Fleury’s age (36) and cap hit ($7 million) makes no sense for the Penguins given their limited cap space ($7.4 million).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The hockey world still awaits Fleury’s decision on his future. There’s talk he could retire rather than head to Chicago. If he retires, there is no cap recapture penalty because that applies only to exceedingly long contracts signed before 2012-13 and Fleury’s doesn’t fall into that category. The Blackhawks would not be charge his $7 million cap hit.
LATEST ON HAMILTON
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Chip Alexander cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting the Carolina Hurricanes are believed to have offered defenseman Dougie Hamilton a deal comparable to that of St. Louis’ Torey Krug: seven years with an annual average value of $6.5 million. If Hamilton departs, Friedman expects the New Jersey Devils will make a big pitch for him.
Is Dougie Hamilton heading to market today? (NHL Images)
Frederik Andersen hasn’t received a contract offer from the Leafs and appears headed to market. The Avalanche could be interested depending on what happens with Philipp Grubauer. So are the Hurricanes. Petr Mrazek and Martin Jones could be two options for the Leafs.
The Canucks could be interested in Jaroslav Halak after buying out Braden Holtby yesterday. Jonathan Bernier hasn’t worked out a deal yet with the Hurricanes and could head to market. The Devils could be interested in him.
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski suggests the availability of affordable young forwards such as Nick Ritchie, Ryan Donato and Pius Suter could change the Maple Leafs’ plans to acquire depth via trades. Twitter was also buzzing yesterday over a rumor suggesting Joshua Ho-Sang could be headed to Toronto on a two-way contract.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators will seek a center and a defenseman when the UFA market opens today. Options could include Alex Wennberg, Andrew Copp or Casey Cizikas. They’ve also shown an interest in Rangers center Ryan Strome.
The latest Jack Eichel speculation, the Bruins are in the market for a left-side defenseman, Kirill Kaprizov’s contract talks go cold, and an update on Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST ON EICHEL
WGR 550: Appearing on “The Instigators” yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger said discussions on Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel increased over the past week. They’ve reached the point where Dreger is comfortable saying he’s getting traded. He indicated there’s a number of suitors, speculating the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets are in the mix. He also thinks the Los Angeles Kings will get into the bidding at some point.
Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three teams have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual salary-cap hit plus young assets that could entice the Sabres.
The Ducks need a top-line center with 36-year-old captain Ryan Getzlaf no longer capable of first-line duty if he decides to return next season. However, I don’t think this is the right move for a team that’s really only just starting to rebuild. Eichel makes more sense for a club that’s trying to advance an ongoing rebuild process or a retooling team looking to quickly get back into playoff contention.
Eichel seems like a good fit for the Kings. Recent reports claim they’re in the market for two top-six forwards. As I’ve noted before, however, there’s a sense among Kings’ followers that they’re seeking players in their late-20s on short-term deals for those top-six roles. If that’s the case, they’re not getting into the mix for Eichel.
The Jackets have sought a first-line center for years. They have three first-round picks in this year’s draft to draw upon as trade bait. The Sabres also need goaltending and there’s talk the Jackets are willing to move Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo for a return that addresses another roster need. They’re in a good position to make a solid pitch for Eichel.
BRUINS SEEK A LEFT-SIDE DEFENSEMAN
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss reported Bruins president Cam Neely indicated his club’s off-season priority is finding a top-four left-side defenseman during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.
Goss speculated they could go the trade route as pickings are slim in this summer’s free-agent market for that type of blueliner. He feels Nashville Predators rearguard Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit but the Bruins’ weak prospect pool means they don’t have many tradeable assets.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Joe Haggerty observed Vegas’ Alec Martinez, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and the Bruins’ Mike Reilly are the top left-handed blueliner in this summer’s free-agent market. Other options could include New Jersey’s Ryan Murray and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. However, he felt the Bruins would be better-served by using trade chips such as Urho Vaakanainen or Jake DeBrusk to acquire a younger, established left-shot rearguard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see the Predators moving Ekholm after passing up the opportunity to do so leading up to this year’s trade deadline. He’s got a year remaining on his contract but they appear keen to re-sign him.
Perhaps the Bruins will pursue St. Louis’ Vince Dunn. There’s speculation the Blues could attempt to trade the pending restricted free agent this summer.
UPDATE ON KAPRIZOV’S CONTRACT TALKS
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports early contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and the representatives for Kirill Kaprizov aren’t going well. He cited NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting Friday that the 23-year-old winger was in Moscow and it’s believed CSKA would like to sign him for the KHL and the 2022 Olympics.
Russo indicates Kaprizov is in Moscow attending a friend’s wedding. CSKA Moscow would love to sign the Calder Trophy finalist but the winger’s desire is to play in the NHL. Nevertheless, the possibility of returning to the KHL provides the Kaprizov camp with leverage in contract talks with the Wild.
The sticking point is the term of the contract. The Wild want to ink Kaprizov to a seven- or eight-year deal but the winger’s camp prefers a two- or three-year deal to bring him up to his UFA eligibility at age 27.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Russo also noted Kaprizov doesn’t seem to want a long-term deal unless the Wild are willing to pay him what his future market value could be. The Wild, however, would be nervous of doing so without having more time to fully evaluate his potential.
I don’t think Kaprizov will return to the KHL but his camp will attempt to use as much leverage as possible. I also doubt Wild general manager Bill Guerin will trade the promising young winger after his impressive NHL debut this season. It’ll be interesting to see how these negotiations proceed over the course of the offseason.
BLACKHAWKS SHOPPING STROME?
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to move Dylan Strome. He had just 14 points in 40 games this season. “He would be eligible for the expansion draft,” writes Garrioch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome showed potential as a second-line center with a 51-point performance in 58 games in 2018-19 after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in an early-season deal. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20 and 14 points this season. He’s got one season remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3 million.