NHL Rumours: Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks and the NHL in Europe

NHL rumours

Welcome to another entry for NHL rumours. Today we will explore talks heating up between the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights for Jack Eichel. We will also look at Tomas Hertl‘s more positive view of the San Jose Sharks and what that means for his future. Finally, we will explore the NHL wanting to play games back in Europe. Let’s dive in!

NHL Rumours

Buffalo Sabres

Rumour: Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reports that talks have heated up between the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights about Jack Eichel. 

Analysis: From a hockey point of view, it makes perfect sense for the Golden Knights to acquire Jack Eichel. Their performance in the playoffs highlighted how they need a number-one centre to truly compete for a Stanley Cup. The question is how does Vegas afford Eichel?

Buffalo has been adamant that they don’t want to retain salary in an Eichel trade. Vegas can’t take on Eichel outright because they have $6.44 million in cap space with Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch on LTIR. But Eichel costs $10 million and Pacioretty and Tuch aren’t expected to be on LTIR for the whole year.

To make this work, the Golden Knights need cap space. One way of doing that is having one of their big stars on LTIR all season. Maybe Mark Stone is the answer? Seravalli wonders about Stone’s health, writing that there is potential that he can be out long-term. They also might include trading newly acquired winger Evgenii Dadonov and his $5 million contract. The other option is Vegas working with a third-party team for them to retain some of Eichel’s salary for a sweetener. The sweetener will have to be large because of how large Eichel’s deal is. But some rebuilding teams with cap space will be willing to take a significant asset to do this. Maybe they can end the NHL rumours about a trade.

San Jose Sharks

Rumour: Kevin Kurtz of the Athletic reports that pending unrestricted free agent Tomas Hertl is looking favourably on staying with the Sharks, especially among the backdrop to a successful season. 

Analysis: When asked about his future in the article, Hertl says, “I say many times (San Jose) is my home, and I love to play here. … End of the day, we have to find a way (for) me and Doug to talk (about) the deal, too, because I don’t know what he’s thinking. I know he wants me to stay, but you want to be always fair for both sides.” 

This doesn’t sound like a player who is keen on leaving. However, Hertl makes it clear he wants a fair deal. The Sharks have $8 million in cap space, enough money to fairly pay Hertl. If he wants to come back, the Sharks can make that happen. He will be an important player in their re-tool because as a 27-year-old, he’s old enough to be an impact player on and off the ice, but young enough to stay that way as a new core helps get the team more competitive once again. More NHL rumours will be prevalent until Hertl is signed.

NHL going back to play games in Europe

Rumour: On the Fourth Period’s Market Rumblings, David Pagnotta and Dennis Bernstein have both heard the NHL wants to bring NHL games back to Europe as early as next year. 

Analysis: Bernstein said, “I think that this season is not going to be in the mix, but (COVID) is improving in Europe and improving here in North America, I think the want is for next season to go back to Europe.” It looks like these games, at the earliest, will come back in the Fall of 2022. Before the pandemic, the Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were scheduled to play two season-opening games in Prague, Czech Republic and host part of their training camps in Germany and Switzerland. Also, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche were scheduled to play in Helsinki, Finland. But they were cancelled because of the pandemic along with the uncertainty around the CBA in the spring of 2020.

It is safe to assume Prague and Helsinki will be the places the NHL will aim for to make up for the cancelled events. Ideally, the same teams will go, but that is dependant on finances and the willingness for a team to travel to Europe depending on the Covid situation.

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