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NHL Rumours: Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers

NHL Rumours

Welcome to another edition of NHL rumours. Today, there is a development in the Jack Eichel saga to explore. After Tampa Bay extended general manager Julien BriseBois, they now focus on extending Jon Cooper. Also, Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic explores Mika Zibanejad’s future as a New York Ranger. Let’s dive into the latest NHL Rumours.

NHL Rumours

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: On 32 Thoughts Podcast Elliotte Friedman says that Buffalo’s asking has not changed but teams are taking a different route to potentially get a trade complete for Jack Eichel. 

Analysis: On 32 Thoughts the Podcast on Monday, Elliotte Freidman raised the idea of allowing interested teams to see Eichel’s medical records as a possible solution for getting a trade done. Simply, why would a team pay full price for an injured Jack Eichel if they don’t fully know what the medical situation is? Teams being able to see these records now is some progress. However, there is still some skepticism surrounding the fact will this be enough to get a deal done at Buffalo’s current high price. While teams may be more comfortable trading for Eichel with knowing the medical information, it still doesn’t make sense to pay full price for an injured player requiring neck surgery. For example, would you buy a Mustang at full price if it had engine problems? Probably not. So why would a general manager pay Buffalo’s price for a player needing surgery?

While this is a needed development, one of two things needs to happen for Eichel to get moved. Buffalo needs to drop their asking price and/or a team has to be desperate for a top centre. What if Joel Erikson-Ek of the Minnesota Wild, Josh Norris of the Ottawa Senators or Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames aren’t having good seasons? Those teams will have more pressure to pull off a deal for Eichel.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Rumour: From Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun reports that Jon Cooper has started contract discussions with the Tampa Bay Lightning after his general manager Julien BriseBois was just re-signed. 

Analysis: Pierre LeBrun calls this “a no-brainer.” Cooper has been with the same franchise for 11 years, going back to his time in the AHL when he won a Calder Cup with the Norfolk Admirals. That team had Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn. He then went on to win two cups with the Lightning. Tampa has had the best record in the NHL since Cooper’s first full season behind the bench in 2013-14.

All of his accomplishments mean that Cooper’s deal will be expensive. Tampa Bay hasn’t been afraid to play their players with signing bonuses included, so the price of Cooper’s deal shouldn’t be a problem. However, it’s hard to predict what it will cost since coaches ‘ salaries aren’t as public as players’. After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mike Sullivan signed a four-year extension, but we don’t know the price. After winning the Stanley Cup, Barry Trotz signed a five-year deal worth $4 million a season with the New York Islanders. One of the more famous coaches’ contracts is when Mike Babcock signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for eight years worth $50 million. I don’t see Tampa going the Babcock route. Trotz got $4 million with one Stanley Cup, could Cooper ask for $8 million with two of them?

New York Rangers

Rumour: Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic writes that the Rangers should be worried about Mika Zibanejad’s future.

Analysis: Carpiniello’s reasoning is that the New York Rangers are all of a sudden running out of cap space. They have a cap surplus right now of $9.396 million according to Cap Friendly, but Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox will be a restricted free agent next season and may take all or most of that surplus. New York’s top two centres, Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season and will want raises. The Rangers also have to sign Kaapo Kakko as well. There are no big contracts coming off the books next season, so money is about to get tight.

The issue why Zibanejad’s future is in question is because he will cost the most after Fox, but he doesn’t play the most with New York’s jewel, Artemi Panarin, Strome does. And Zibanejad has only scored 16 more points than Strome over the past two seasons. Would New York be comfortable moving on from Zibanejad and having a cheaper Strome as their top centre? If New York does sign both Zibanejad and Strome, does Chris Kreider get moved and a cheaper winger come in? It seems like New York is going to lose a prominent player next season. There should be more NHL rumours to come about New York’s situation.

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