Welcome back to the Tuesday edition of NHL Rumours. The NHL has made it through the quarter mark of the season and we are seven weeks away from the trade deadline of April 12th. Teams are still playing catch up, but the NHL has appeared to get through a little hiccup in the schedule. As the countdown to the trade deadline starts, the crew at Last Word on Hockey has got you covered with the best analysis. In today’s edition of NHL Rumours, we look at the Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, and Edmonton Oilers.
Analysis: The Ducks were surprised that nobody picked Henrique off of waivers. While he can still produce as a player on the ice, the thing holding back a team from picking him up is his contract. Henrique still has three years left after this season on a contract that pays him $5.825 million per season. In today’s economic environment where every dollar matters, no NHL team is willing to just pick up that contract. And you are going to see around the league, that players that have bad contracts will be put on waivers. However, that does not mean, the Ducks cannot get anything for him. General manager Bob Murray wants to give Henrique a fresh start and believes a team will want him to bolster their lineup. Henrique can still produce in the right situation.
There are a couple of options on the board for Henrique. They can trade him and take on a bad contract with less term. The Ducks could also figure out a way where they retain salary somewhere between 25 and 50 percent. It will be tough for a team to take on that contract. If he had less than three years left on that deal, the Ducks might get some takers. Having three years left certainly hurts the Ducks options in the trade market.
New York Rangers
Rumour: Larry Brooks of the New York Post writes that with number one centre Mika Zibanejad struggling the New York Rangers could be in a position to pursue Buffalo Sabres disgruntled forward Jack Eichel.
Analysis: Stop if you heard that one before. The Rangers have been a player in the Eichel sweepstakes ever since the trade winds started coming out of Buffalo. Eichel is not a happy camper in Buffalo as the Sabres continue to have another disastrous season. He is an ideal fit for the Rangers to fill that number one centre’s role. But don’t the Rangers already have that in Mika Zibanejad? They do, but, he is off to a terrible start. And while his last two games have been better, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season. And with his production going down this could affect a possible extension. This is where Eichel comes in.
The Rangers are in a position to make a move for Eichel. They have the cap space to take on his contract that carries a salary cap of $10 million per season. Not to mention they are loaded with promising young prospects that the Sabres will be interested in. Now the Sabres are not going to give away Eichel for some expendable parts as Brooks wrote. If anything the deal most likely will either start with 2020 1st overall selection Alexis Lafreniere or 2019 first round (2nd overall pick) Kaapo Kakko. Is the price too steep for a team like the Rangers who are doing things the right way through their rebuild?
Analysis: Even though Bear is a young defenceman that is a valuable trade chip, the Oilers can ill-afford to give him up given the lack of depth on defence to replace him. Bear is currently out of the lineup after taking a puck to the head on January 30th, but when in the lineup he is very effective. While guys like Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie, who are unrestricted free-agents at the end of the season, are eating up a lot of minutes, Bear is a player the Oilers can build around on defence going forward. Not to mention he is on a reasonable contract through 2022 and is a restricted free agent. Most of their defencemen are unrestricted free agents.
And if they were to trade Bear what are they going to get in return? They have holes at the goaltending position, third-line centre, and on the wing. They have yet to find someone who can be a reliable scoring winger on this team, outside of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The best strategy the Oilers can take is trading one of the veteran defencemen to acquire a piece to fill a need. And why weaken the right side of the defence even more? What the Oilers should do instead of looking to trade Bear is to move someone from the left side.
That does it for this edition of NHL Rumours. Stay tuned for another edition on Wednesday.
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