NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jack Eichel Trade Interest, Zdeno Chara, More
On Monday, the NHL released the full preseason schedule for the 2021-22 campaign, and it won't be long before the first puck drops. Preseason action will get underway Sept. 25, so there's little more than a month until the players will return to the ice in a competitive setting.
That also means the offseason is winding down. Most of the major moves have already taken place, and the league's 32 teams have a pretty good idea of what their rosters will look like at the start of the upcoming season. But there's still the potential for some late signings and trades before hockey returns.
Here's some of the latest offseason buzz from around the NHL.
Several Teams Still Linked to Eichel in Trade Rumors
Throughout the offseason, there have been rumors of potential trades that could lead to Jack Eichel leaving the Buffalo Sabres. However, it's been reported numerous times that the team has a high asking price for its captain, and so the center has stayed put.
But that doesn't mean there aren't still interested teams. According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, the following teams "continue to be linked to" the 24-year-old: the Anaheim Ducks, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames.
Pagnotta believes other teams have probably inquired about Buffalo's asking price for Eichel to see if it's come down, and he also stated that the Sabres would likely still prefer to send the player out West.
However, there also still seem to be some injury concerns regarding the three-time All-Star.
"Multiple sources have confirmed that Eichel has still not undergone surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, and it's looking likely that he will not be medically cleared and available for the start of the regular season—regardless of what team he's on," Pagnotta wrote.
For now, Eichel remains in Buffalo with uncertainty surrounding where and when he'll play next. But perhaps there will be some resolution before the season arrives.
Blues Showing Interest in Chara Again
After 23 seasons in the NHL, Zdeno Chara still hasn't made it known whether he'll be back for a 24th.
If the 44-year-old decides he does want to play, it appears there's at least one team with interest in the defenseman.
Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic reported that the St. Louis Blues have "expressed interest" in Chara for the second straight offseason. Last year, he opted to sign with the Washington Capitals instead, after he had spent the previous 14 seasons with the Boston Bruins.
Rutherford noted there had been "mutual interest" between the Blues and Ryan Suter, but he decided to sign a four-year, $14.6 million deal with the Dallas Stars. That's why St. Louis remains in the market for a veteran defenseman and could pursue Chara.
The Slovak played 55 games for the Caps last season, recording two goals, eight assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-five. Last month, his agent, Matt Keator, told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that Chara has been spending time with his family in Slovakia and is in "no rush" to make a decision about his future.
Even though Chara is no longer in his prime, his experience and leadership could be valuable to a team that is looking to contend in 2021-22.
Wild Expecting Khovanov to Be Back in North America
Alexander Khovanov was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, but he has yet to make his debut in the league. In fact, he spent last season playing with Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL and VHL.
However, it seems the Russian will be back in the mix for the Wild soon. The Athletic's Michael Russo reported that Minnesota expects him to return to North America "once some passport and visa requirements are completed."
He could have returned to the KHL for another season, but it appears he's opted not to do that. It's unknown whether he could make his NHL debut during the 2021-22 season or if he'll mostly be playing in the AHL once he is back.
Khovanov is still only 21 and was one of the top scorers in the QMJHL when he was playing with the Moncton Wildcats from 2017-20, so it's possible he has a bright future ahead of him in Minnesota.