NHL Rumors Weekly: Blues; Sabres; Ducks; Predators; and more
NHL Rumors Weekly is back after a week hiatus! Normally, August is a slow month since Free Agent Frenzy took place on July 1 in the past. The Pandemic not only shortened the regular season but it collapsed this offseason to the briefest in memory.
Teams are already getting some players back in order to get ready for rookie camps that open in less than a month. Here’s a look at the most noteworthy rumors over the last week.
NHL Rumors: Blues actively looking for a defenseman
The St. Louis Blues are still in the market to add a veteran defender to their lineup. They had interest in signing UFA Zdeno Chara but he’s only looking to play in the East if he doesn’t opt to retire.
“Told the Blues are not an option for future Hall of Fame Dman Zdeno Chara,” Andy Strickland tweeted. “His focus, if he plays, will be to stay in the East to remain close to his family.”
The latest reports out of St. Louis via The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford say they are eyeing NY Islanders defenseman and hometown boy Scott Mayfield.
The New York Islanders are one of the rumored teams that could be in on Vladimir Tarasenko. While it is believed that GM Lou Lamoriello has deals in place for Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri, and Zach Parise he hasn’t announced them. Why? Maybe he does not want his exact cap situation known? Regardless, a deal for Tarasenko may have defenseman Scott Mayfield going back the other way.
Keep in mind the Islanders are tight on defense and would need to replace Mayfield. Defensemen like Sami Vatanen and Jason Demers remain unsigned. Could they be an option for the Blues?
Latest on Jack Eichel neck surgery and Ducks trade interest
David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is reporting that sources have told him Jack Eichel has not had any surgery. The dispute between a traditional fusion procedure or artificial disc replacement still rages on. Regardless, this means for certain that Eichel will not be ready for the start of the season.
A fusion’s recovery time is no less than 12 weeks. Meanwhile, the disc replacement is a window of 8-10 weeks. Either option has him missing all of camp and the start of the season, if not longer.
On the trade front, it sounds like the Ducks who were believed out may be returning to the picture. Eric Stephens who covers the Ducks for the Athletic said this in a recent mailbag post:
The Ducks, while not publicly talking about their interest in him, haven’t put the kibosh on the persistent rumors that they’re among the teams closely monitoring the situation between Eichel and Buffalo. While Adams is under pressure to get a massive trade return for his star, he does have some leverage in that Eichel is signed long-term and his full no-move clause doesn’t kick in until next summer.
Also, Buffalo’s top pick and #1 overall Owen Power is returning to Michigan for the upcoming season.
Predators may need to make move
Next summer the Predators have two key players that are heading for UFA status. Both Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm will be able to cash in, but GM David Poile is trying to get them extended. According to published reports, conversations have started with Ekholm.
“And then I think shortly before training camp we’ll reach out to Filip Forsberg and [Mattias Ekholm] camp and sort of get a lay of the land as to where Filip’s thoughts are right now,” Poile said. “Those are the next two priorities.”NHL.com
Forsberg, 27, scored 32 points in 39 games last season. He’s coming off a deal with an AAV of $6M. Meanwhile, Ekholm, 31, registered 23 points in 48 games and earns just $3.75M against the cap. Both are due raises but Ekholm will see a significant increase.
When it comes to Forsberg, his signing will likely mean the urgency to trade either Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansson only go up. Nashville may be forced to eat a considerable portion of either’s contract to facilitate a move.
ATLANTIC DIVISION PREVIEW
The Atlantic Division boasts the reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and the surprise runners-up in the Montreal Canadiens. This summer, the Atlantic has undoubtedly been the most intriguing of the NHL’s four divisions.
Check out the full preview here.