The NHL is back. After an eventful offseason that included trades, free-agent signings and a new class of incoming rookies, the league's 32 teams are now preparing for the 2021-22 season.
This past weekend, the first NHL preseason games took place. And there will be plenty more exhibition contests taking place over the next few weeks before regular-season action gets underway on Oct. 12. So there's not much time until these games start mattering.
While the majority of the focus has now shifted to what's happening on the ice, there are still rumors circulating about potential trades, possible contract negotiations and more.
Here's some of the latest buzz from around the NHL.
Teams Reportedly Want Clauses Added to Potential Eichel Trade
With the Buffalo Sabres now holding training camp, it's still not clear whether Jack Eichel will play for the team again. The center, who has been dealing with a herniated disk in his neck since March, failed a physical upon his arrival at camp and was then stripped of his captaincy.
There's been a dispute between Eichel and the Sabres over which surgery he should undergo in order to get healthy, and that's sparked plenty of trade rumors all offseason. So while Eichel currently remains in Buffalo, it's possible that could change if there isn't any resolution.
According to Nick Kypreos of Line Movement, the 24-year-old would be willing to be dealt to any of the NHL's 31 other teams. However, it seems quite a few have conditions they'd want included in any potential trade.
Kypreos reported that one team believes a trade is doable, but they'd want clauses added regarding how Eichel performs after surgery in terms of his games played, his scoring and other key stats. In such a deal, a team may not have to pay Eichel as much if he didn't perform up to expectations.
Eichel is still under contract through the end of the 2025-26 season, so if a team traded for him, it would have multiple years of control. However, he will have a full no-movement clause come into effect after the 2021-22 season. As of now, he can be traded to any team, which doesn't seem to be a concern to him based on Kypreos' report.
When Eichel has been healthy, he's been an effective player. After being selected by the Sabres with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, he's tallied 139 goals and 216 assists in 375 games with the team over six seasons.
Senators Not Close to a New Deal with Tkachuk?
Another hot topic around the NHL of late has been Brady Tkachuk's status with the Ottawa Senators. The forward is a restricted free agent who has yet to work out a deal with the Sens, who still have him under team control due to his RFA status.
During a Sept. 26 appearance on TSN 1200 Ottawa, TSN's Darren Dreger reported there's "no deal that is close at this point" between Tkachuk and the Senators. But there's plenty of time for things to change on that front.
"That's not to say that it can't happen very swiftly," Dreger said. "I think when you get to this stage in the negotiation, everybody knows what the lines are, right? Ottawa prefers a certain amount of term, a long term. They know what they like in terms of the money. They don't like giving up the bonus money. So the structure of the contract has been a back-and-forth, to be sure."
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that the Senators sent an eight-year, $64 million proposal to Tkachuk's camp, as they're hoping to get that type of deal done. But Garrioch also noted that both the 22-year-old and the team are "trying to find a way to end the stalemate to get Tkachuk back on the ice as quickly as possible."
It makes sense that Ottawa wants to continue to build around Tkachuk. Since being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft, he has 60 goals and 65 assists in 198 games over three seasons, and he's likely going to keep getting better in the years to come.