NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jack Eichel, Evgeny Kuznetsov and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2021

NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jack Eichel, Evgeny Kuznetsov and More

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    The 2021 NHL entry draft has come and gone, and teams will now turn their attention to acquiring veteran players. Many will be targeted when free agency officially opens Wednesday, but some player acquisitions could already be in the works.

    We saw several trades take place over draft weekend, with Seth Jones, Adam Boqvist and Pavel Buchnevich among the notable names to change teams. Now the focus will shift from dealing in draft capital to strengthening rosters for the 2021-22 season.

    Which players could be on the move in the coming days? Which teams are willing to deal as free agency approaches? Here, we'll dig into the latest buzz.

Montreal Not 'Heavily Invested' in Acquiring Eichel

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel is one of the most notable players already on the trade block. Buffalo hasn't moved the 24-year-old All-Star yet, but Eichel's camp expects that to change in the not-too-distant future.

    "Our expectation is that Jack is going to be traded in the near future, and all of our discussions have been centred around that issue," Eichel's agents, Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli, told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

    Several teams will likely be in on Eichel, though it appears the Montreal Canadiens won't be among them.

    "Believe the Canadiens have poked around, but have been told they're not heavily invested in acquiring him. Things can change fast, as always, but not sure they will," Sportsnet's Eric Engels tweeted.

    After Montreal fell 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, most could assume that reloading for a more successful finish would be the goal of the offseason. And perhaps the Canadiens will make some splashy moves in the coming days to improve their roster. Just don't count on acquiring Eichel to be one of them.

Washington Could Still Move Evgeny Kuznetsov

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Washington Capitals didn't trade forward Evgeny Kuznetsov over draft weekend, and general manager Brian MacLellan recently explained that a Kuznetsov deal is not a foregone conclusion.

    "[Kuznetsov]’s a good player," MacLellan said, per J.J. Regan of NBC 4 Washington. "We like the player. I don't know. We've never said we're trading Kuznetsov. I said we were open to discussions on most of our players on the trade market and if it comes up, it comes up and if it doesn't make sense, same as always."

    MacLellan didn't deny that a Kuznetsov trade could happen, though, and we could see one at or near the start of free agency. The reason, according to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, is that Washington is looking to clear cap in order to re-sign Alex Ovechkin.

    "Alex Ovechkin is expected to sign a four-year deal worth around $10 million with Washington once all is said and done. They’re trying to shed salary (Kuznetsov) and will continue their trade talks," Pagnotta wrote.

    If the Capitals can find the right cap-saving scenario, they probably will deal Kuznetsov sooner than later. However, as MacLellan stated, if the right deal doesn't come along, they'll likely stay the course with the 29-year-old.

    Kuznetsov is under contract through the 2024-25 season.

Penguins Not 'Major Players' in Trade Market but Are Seeking Goalie Help

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    NHL Images/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't likely to make a splash in the trade market this offseason, but they are apparently looking to fill a specific need.

    According to Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now, the Penguins would like to add a quality goalie to their rotation:

    "The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't major players on the NHL trade market. They poked around on a high-priced goalie with impeccable credentials, who also hails from Pittsburgh (John Gibson), but a Penguins team source said there was no traction as of Friday afternoon. ... The Penguins' source further confirmed what PHN has reported for several weeks. GM Ron Hextall has added a 1B type goalie to the Penguins trade board."

    Kingerski mentions both John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks and Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes as examples of a potential trade target—though Kuemper hasn't been directly linked to Pittsburgh.

    "We can't report the Penguins are in on Kuemper," Kingerski wrote. "... we can confidently say the Penguins are exploring options 'like' him."

    The Penguins aren't likely to go chasing many big names on the trade market, but if a quality goaltender becomes available, it appears that Pittsburgh will be interested.