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Weekly NHL Rumours – What’s Left?

August is historically the quietest month in the NHL. Usually, by this point, free agents have had over a month to find a new home and General Managers are tucked away at their cabins for the summer and likely aren’t thinking about making big splashes on the trade market.

Now, most GMs are probably done for the summer already but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some big moves that need to be made.

There are a handful of stories that are still going to be worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks, one of which involves the Oilers. Before we get to that, let’s start with the biggest name still on the trade market.

EICHEL IS SOMEHOW STILL A SABRE

Feb 15, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) waits for a face-off ]during the third period against the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center.

The situation between Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres continues to get uglier and uglier. The two sides are still publicly going at each other with the most recent shot coming from Eichel’s camp, who say that “the process is not working”.

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This relationship isn’t going to be fixed, that’s been pretty clear for a few months now, but Sabres GM Kevyn Adams is also clearly not just going to give Eichel away but as training camp creeps closer and closer, it gets tougher to imagine the Sabres getting a decent return for the 2015 second overall pick.

The Flames, Rangers, Bruins, Wild, Ducks, Golden Knights, and Blue Jackets are all reportedly interested in acquiring Eichel. Recently, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period wondered if the Sabres would be willing to retain some money in a move for Eichel. He made it sound like that could happen.

I’m not doubting Pagnotta’s reporting at all, but personally, I’m not sure why the Sabres would do that. The bad publicity that comes from dealing away a piece that was supposed to be your franchise player is bad enough. Can you imagine having to continue paying him for the next six seasons to not play for you? That would just add insult to injury. 

I could totally see the Sabres taking back a bad contract or two to really up the return they’d get, but that’s as far as they should be willing to go.

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As for who could acquire him, I think the Rangers and Golden Knights might be the two most likely destinations. I’m sure Eichel would love to see the Bruins make a move but after looking over their cap situation, I’m just not sure how they could make it work.

A trade will likely happen in the next month or so but as things stand right now, it doesn’t sound like the Sabres are any closer to a deal than they were at the beginning of July.

IS THERE A GOALIE MARKET?

The Oilers would very clearly like to add a new goaltender to the mix to play alongside Mike Smith but as Ken Holland pointed out in his most recent press conference, for him to get involved in the goalie market, he would have to move a goalie out. Everyone has made the assumption that the goalie they would move out is Mikko Koskinen.

Now, it appears as though the goaltending market has all but dried up. Almost every goaltender that was available has a new home and most of the league appears pretty set between the pipes. There are a few exceptions though.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman recently talked about the Dallas Stars as a potential trade fit for the Edmonton Oilers, specifically mentioning veteran Anton Khudobin as an option.

The Stars have a loaded crease with youngster Jake Oetinger, the newly signed Braden Holtby, and a potentially healthy Ben Bishop. The 35-year-old Khudobin has two more years on a deal that carries a cap hit of $3.33 million. He’s coming off a season that saw his save percentage dip down to 0.905 as well. 

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Personally, I’m not a big fan of adding Khudobin. Yes, he’d likely be an upgrade on Mikko Koskinen but I’m not sold on him being a substantial enough upgrade that it’s worth committing to him for the 2022-23 season as well.

On top of that, the Oilers would still have to shed Koskinen’s contract and the only teams that look like they’d be in a position to take it are the Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres. Both of those teams currently have less than ideal tandems signed to contracts (Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell in Buffalo and Carter Hutton and Josef Korenar in Arizona). On top of that, the Sabres aren’t even at the cap floor yet and the Coyotes have $11 million in cap space. They could make a deal work. Whether the Oilers would have to give up an asset in the move would remain to be seen. Another factor complicating things is that Koskinen has a 15-team no-trade clause.

I think it’s unlikely that we see the Oilers find a new option to play alongside Smith. Maybe Alex Stalock surprises the team in training camp though.

QUICK NOTES

  • The Evander Kane situation will be fascinating. Frank Seravalli reported earlier in the summer that the Sharks were looking to move him and now a report from The Athletic says that several Sharks players don’t want Kane back with the team. Add the gambling allegations on top of that now and it’s tough to see a clear path for the Sharks to get out of this. I wonder if the NHL will simply take their time with the investigation and leave Kane on some sort of suspended list.
  • Lou Lamoriello apparently has a handful of contracts already agreed to with players (Zach Parise, Casey Cizikas, and Kyle Palmieri) but they haven’t been officially announced yet. There are also reports that the Islanders could be one of the teams in on Vladamir Tarasenko.
  • Speaking of Tarasenko, that’s another player that will need to find a new home before training camp. It doesn’t sound like the relationship there can be fixed and with a lot of teams having already spent their offseason cap space, Blues GM Doug Armstrong is in a bit of a pickle.
  • The most intriguing name still on the UFA market for me: Tomas Tatar. He’s been a very consistent producer throughout his career but his reputation took a hit when he was healthy scratched for the Montreal Canadiens’ entire playoff run. I would love to see the Oilers find a way to squeeze him in but that’s probably not overly realistic. The Colorado Avalanche have been mentioned and they would be a good fit.
  • One goalie to keep an eye on: Henrik Lundqvist. ‘The King’ reportedly wants to play again after missing last season with an injury. I wonder if anyone offers him a straight-up contract before the season starts.

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