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NHL Rumours: Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild

NHL Rumours; Jack Eichel

Hello and welcome to a Sunday edition of NHL rumours! Every day brings us closer to the offseason, which means plenty of news is swirling. Teams are busy preparing for contract extensions and multiple drafts. Check in with Last Word on Hockey frequently for the latest from around the league. Today’s NHL rumours feature the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, and Minnesota Wild.

NHL Rumours

Colorado Avalanche

Rumour: The Athletic’s Peter Baugh recently had a mailbag where he evaluated Seth Jones‘ fit on the Avalanche roster. 

Analysis: It is tempting to view the former fourth overall pick as the last piece of need, but Colorado should steer clear of Jones. That isn’t a knock on the Columbus Blue Jackets defender, but trading for a 26-year-old skater would fly in the face of everything Joe Sakic has built. Such a trade would block one of the team’s other young defenders from playing a more prominent role next year.

That is because Jones doesn’t offer a measurable improvement over the team’s existing options. He isn’t a great possession defender despite the majority of his zone starts coming on offence. He also doesn’t do significantly more on offence than any of the Avs’ notable defenders. The only thing he might add is a level of physicality with over 100 hits and blocks in 2020-21, but that isn’t something you trade for in the modern game. Getting Eric Johnson healthy and getting a year of improvement elsewhere would be more than enough to satisfy any production Jones might bring.

If the team is really eager to add another right-shot defender, they might be better-served extending an offer to David Savard. The current Tampa Bay Lightning defender seems like an excellent defensive counterpart to either Samuel Girard or Bowen Byram. Savard also might not break Colorado’s salary situation as he almost 31 years old. The Avalanche must take care of internal contract decisions first, but it is anyone’s guess what they prioritize after that. It just shouldn’t be Jones.

Chicago Blackhawks

Rumour: Larry Brooks of the New York Post recently indicated that the Blackhawks are interested in trading for Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres.

Analysis: It’s fair to question whether or not Eichel should be a priority for a rebuilding Chicago squad. They will have plenty of cap space, but a lot of roster holes. Six skaters from their current NHL roster hit free agency. Serious concerns also surround their goaltending situation for 2021-22.

One must also consider that Buffalo isn’t just going to give Eichel away even in a rebuild. This is a top 10 player even if he has been trapped in a terrible organization. Any trade for the Sabres star would include not only the team’s first-round pick in the 2021 Draft but probably at least one current prospect. Many of Chicago’s best young talent is also in the NHL already. Trading the 11th overall selection and Kirby Dach would be something of a lateral move for the team’s long-term goals.

However, Chicago should absolutely try to make a splash during the offseason. They could make a run at their former wing, Brandon Saad, for additional punch. If centre depth is the big concern pending Jonathan Toews‘ status, they can see what happens with either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or the veteran Paul Stastny. The main point is that Chicago shouldn’t hamstring their rebuild by trading players that will form their next core. Smart free-agent investments and internal development are the stronger way to build a sustainable winner.

Minnesota Wild

Rumour: NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes recently revealed that contract talks between the Wild and Kirill Kaprizov have stalled.

Analysis: Do not worry, Wild fans. Kaprizov is not returning to Russia after his breakout rookie season. He is far too valuable to the team’s future to let sign with CSKA Moscow. This is merely posturing for a better deal.

The main sticking point is probably the length of his deal as a restricted free agent. The team would love a max-term deal, but the player would prefer something shorter for more money. That is because he is already 24 years old and a max deal takes him into his early 30s. It’s obvious why the player would rather have a shorter deal. This will allow him much more career flexibility than a max contract with Minnesota.

The good thing is that any deal that keeps Kaprizov in Minnesota is a good deal. The team has built a strong core and even losing someone in the expansion draft shouldn’t derail them too much. They do have some very onerous contracts on the books, but nothing that should prevent them from making moves this offseason. The current core plus some exciting young talent should be enough to convince Kaprizov that the Wild are a legitimate Stanley Cup Contender for as long as he wants to be around, however long the two sides agree to be partners.

That does it for this edition of NHL rumours stay tuned for another edition on Monday.

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