It’s the time of the offseason and the anti-trade rumors. We considered putting on blast one of the anonymous bloggers who was reporting, step by step, a free agent signing on Wednesday..except for the fact that it didn’t actually happen. But there are other players whose names have appeared in reputable reports, NHL trade speculation, and we otherwise expected to see traded by now, including one by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
While Eichel is still attempting to force a trade out of Buffalo and get his back surgery, the Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams is still holding up the show. The last NHL trade was two weeks ago when the Vegas Golden Knights sent Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers so that Tom Wilson won’t “ragdoll” the Rangers this season.
Full pun intended.
In fact, the NHL trade market has grown cold, even the Eichel chase. Between the exorbitant cost for Eichel and New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello’s underhanded tactic of agreeing but not finalizing free-agent contracts so he can negotiate harder on the trade front, it’s a log jam.
Top 5 Players Rumored to be on NHL Trade Block, Why they Didn’t Get Traded.
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Will somebody get the kid a Happy Meal?? Eichel’s agents firmly chided the Sabres for the process. Buffalo won’t let Eichel have the specific back procedure he thinks is necessary. And, as National Hockey Now’s Off the Record column was the first to report, Buffalo wants at least four assets in return.
The Eichel grab was one of our best gets this summer.
The Minnesota Wild also kicked tires, but like others, pulled out of the running.
It’s a good old-fashioned stalemate. The Player wants out. The team can’t get enough for the player. The player needs surgery. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl, country song is made. Eichel may have the Anchor Bar Blues soon.
Odds Eichel plays for Sabres this season: Still hovering at 5% but might climb to 10% next week.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
It was a poorly kept secret the Washington Capitals were getting irritated with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s immaturity. There was the infamous Las Vegas hotel photo with either a lot of Columbian bam-bam, or the boys bought a few dozen powdered sugar donuts but didn’t clean up the mess. There have been lackadaisical play and internal attitude issues, being late for meetings, and two–yes two–suspensions for violating COVID protocol.
We won’t even get into the rumors surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins rival.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Capitals were out of patience. However, a few weeks ago, Washington Capitals GM Brian McClellan walked that back, perhaps after the trade market was 10-ply soft.
“He’s a good player. We like the player,” MacLellan said regarding Kuznetsov. “We’ve never said we’re trading Kuznetsov. I said we’re open to discussions on most of our players for the (NHL trade market). If it comes up, it comes up, and if it doesn’t make sense, same as always. It’s never been ‘we’re moving Kuznetsov’ as it’s been portrayed in a few places.”
It’s tough to move such a talented young player. Of course, it’s not tough to lose an irresponsible guy who thinks the NHL is party time. Which one is Kuznetsov? The dirty bird remains in DC. Teams don’t want the distraction, nor are they willing to pay the price for his talent yet. If Kuznetsov spends a little while on the straight and narrow, suitors will be lined up around the block.
Odds Kuznetsov remains in DC: 75%.
Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are cap-strapped. Zucker has a $5.5 million AAV for the next two years, and the GM who chased Zucker like a lovestruck puppy for nearly a year is gone. It was natural Zucker’s name would appear in the NHL trade rumors. However, nothing has come of it, including a whiff of substantial talks.
Last season, Zucker scored 18 points (9-9-18) in 38 games. He also suffered a significant lower-body injury midway through the season. Pundits often mentioned teams like the Detroit Red Wings and the Seattle Kraken via expansion draft, but it surely appears Zucker will remain a Penguin. His salary vs. his production is too much to swallow.
Odds Zucker remains a Penguin: 90%.
Another case of player wants out. The team wants the player out. No other team wants the player at his current salary. Tarasenko has a thrice rebuilt shoulder, and at 29-years-old, he is a question mark. At $7.5 million AAV for the next two seasons, he’s a question to which other teams don’t want the answer.
The New York Islanders and GM Lou Lamoriello are or were rumored to be interested, but the sith lord of the NHL GMs has remained in the shadows. The secretive org may have the money. They may not. That’s the point of their game.
But Tarasenko is still in St. Louis, and neither side is entirely pleased.
Odds Tarasenko remains in St. Louis: 20%. The Blues will crack, and Lou has his napkin tucked into his shirt, ready to feast.
Mathew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames
Everyone’s ears perked up when the young, gritty forward with a nose for the net popped up in the NHL trade rumors. However, it was perhaps a false alarm.
The immediate rumor was Tkachuk wanted to play for the St. Louis Blues, where his father, Keith Tkachuk, starred. And St. Louis would send Tarasenko to Calgary. Easy! However, it wasn’t long before Toronto wanted in on the fun.
Alas, it was not to be. Calgary GM Brad Treveling publicly quelled the trade chatter with an appropriately firm statement on SiriusXM radio.
99.99% chance Tkachuk is in Calgary.
Just remember, trade talks are just that: Two sides talking. It’s not a trade report and certainly doesn’t mean anything is imminent. There are a dozen more conversations that no one knows or doesn’t go anywhere for every bit of chatter we get. Everything can change in one phone call, for good or bad, and sometimes both.