Two of the biggest names featured in NHL trade rumors early in the offseason were St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. The 2021-22 campaign is set to get underway Oct. 12, yet neither has been dealt. But that could still change.
Tarasenko requested a trade in July, but nothing materialized. Eichel's situation with the Sabres is a lot more complicated because of his neck injury, which caused him to fail a physical and may still require surgery.
As the start of the season nears, these players continue to have plenty of news surrounding them. Here's some of the latest buzz involving Tarasenko and Eichel.
What Would It Take for Blues to Trade Tarasenko?
Even though Tarasenko is still with the Blues, it doesn't mean they won't trade him this season. However, it seems like that isn't going to be the team's preferred option.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen recently wrote that Tarasenko is likely to be in St. Louis all season because the team expects to be in contention for a playoff spot. But if the Blues disappoint and don't think they are going to be competing for the Stanley Cup, then Rosen believes a trade would be possible.
"If the forward can't stay healthy, he would have minimal trade value, so the Blues would be in a tough spot," Rosen wrote. "... If healthy and productive, his value on the trade market should be significant because the team acquiring him would have him for next season and could sign him to a contract extension next offseason."
Tarasenko still has two seasons remaining on the eight-year, $60 million deal he signed with the Blues in 2015. As for his health, that's been an issue recently, as he's been limited to 34 games over the past two seasons. St. Louis' handling of his shoulder surgeries was also a contributing factor in his trade request.
Maybe that affected the interest that teams might usually have had in Tarasenko this offseason. But there's no doubt he can be a productive player when he's on the ice, as he had at least 68 points in five straight seasons from 2014 to 2019.
Set to turn 30 in December, Tarasenko seems likely to remain in St. Louis for at least the remainder of 2021. However, it will be interesting to see how things develop, especially if he sees out his deal with the Blues and becomes a free agent after the 2022-23 campaign.
Sabres' Asking Price for Eichel Remains High
It seems much less likely that Eichel is going to remain in Buffalo. He was stripped of his captaincy after his failed physical, and he and the Sabres haven't been on the same page regarding how to handle his neck injury.
So why hasn't Buffalo just dealt the 24-year-old to end this saga? Well, it may still have a bit to do with the Sabres' asking price.
According to Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, the Sabres' "demands, long believed to be at least four pieces and perhaps more, are just too much right now for an injured player." And a Western Conference source shared that sentiment with Harrington.
"What they're asking for is insane" the source told Harrington. "I get that they're trading Eichel, but what do they really expect if you don't know if he can play?"
So the stalemate continues. It seems unlikely that Eichel will play for the Sabres again. And if they are not willing to lower their asking price or allow him to get the surgery he desires, then he may not be playing anywhere anytime soon.