With all of the rumors swirling around the Vegas Golden Knights and Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel, the bold take right now may actually be the a deal is not imminent. There are quietly signs pointing in that direction as well. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that trade talks for the elite center did in fact heat up earlier this week, but they have since "cooled."
Dreger notes that there is mounting pressure on the Sabres to make a move with Eichel’s camp threatening to file a grievance with the NHLPA in regard to his deferred neck surgery. GM Kevyn Adams is well aware of that threat, but won’t let it dictate how he handles what will likely be the biggest trade of his career as a hockey executive. While Dreger acknowledges that just one phone call could shift the status quo, all is quiet for the time being.
On the Vegas side, The Athletic’s Jesse Granger responded to eager fans that the Sabres are not even scouting the Knights’ Friday night game. If the two sides are close on a deal that is expected to contain at least some current members of the Vegas roster given the cap implications for both teams, wouldn’t the Sabres be getting all the information they can before a pivotal trade? Sure, an Eichel trade could very well happen and maybe it does happen soon, but those doomscrolling their Twitter feeds awaiting deal at any moment might be disappointed. Eichel to the Knights is not done yet.
- Another team interested in Eichel has been the Anaheim Ducks. While acquiring a player of his caliber is as far from a knee-jerk move as possible, the Ducks do have some added incentive. The team announced that top forward Rickard Rakell has been placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed upper-body injury. The team did not provide any details on the severity of the injury or the expected length of Rakell’s absence, only stating that he was hurt in the team’s most recent game on Thursday. While Rakell has the appearance of a slow start with just four points in eight games, good for eighth in scoring for the Ducks, he has quietly led the team in goal-scoring with four tallies making up his only four points. Rakell is also leading all forwards in ice time. The dangerous winger has finished no lower than second in team scoring in each of the past four years so his absence will certainly be felt. Vinni Lettieri, recalled to fill Rakell’s roster spot, is far from a suitable replacement. With division rival Vegas suddenly “close” on an Eichel deal, is the loss of Rakell the last straw for the Ducks to get them to jump back into the race and win the Eichel sweepstakes?
- Another player sidelined out west is Dallas Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa. The big blue liner has entered the NHL’s COVID protocol, the team has announced. He has been ruled out for Friday night at the very least with the team likely to update his status this weekend. A free-agent addition brought in to add some grit to the back end in Dallas, Hakanpaa leads the team in hits and in limited ice time at that. As he continues to learn from veteran pair mate Andrej Sekera, Hakanpaa could continue to develop into a great shutdown option for the Stars. They hope to have him back on the ice soon.