The 2021-22 NHL season is set to get underway Tuesday. The trade deadline is slated for March 21. And in between, the league's 32 teams will play games that dictate the types of moves they will be making.
For some, it's already clear whether they are likely to be buyers or sellers at the deadline. Teams such as the two-time reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup contenders. Those like the Arizona Coyotes, meanwhile, are amid a rebuild and may be looking to deal top players.
There's been plenty of trade buzz as we've gone from the offseason to the preseason, and with a certain franchise center still not having switched teams, it's likely to continue into the regular season. Here's some of the latest from around the NHL.
Sabres Moving Closer to Potential Eichel Trade?
With how slow the Jack Eichel trade saga has developed, it's unclear when the Buffalo Sabres could deal the 24-year-old. But it seems things are moving more in that direction than they were for much of the offseason.
On Wednesday, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that teams with an interest in trading for Eichel have been able to have discussions about Eichel's neck injury, as well as gain additional access to his medical files. Eichel may need to undergo surgery, and the preferred course of action has led to a disconnect between him and Buffalo.
If another team acquires Eichel, he and that new organization could be on the same page. There have been rumors that the Sabres' asking price is high, but it's always possible they get what they want given Eichel's talent.
"Both sides are hopeful something can be worked out soon with one of the clubs in the mix," Dreger tweeted.
When healthy, Eichel was a strong player over the past six seasons with the Sabres. He had 355 points (139 goals and 216 assists) in 375 games for a team that has failed to make the playoffs in that time. However, injury limited him to 21 games during the 2020-21 campaign.
Although Eichel is still on Buffalo's roster, he failed a physical in September and was stripped of the team's captaincy. It seems unlikely that he will play another game for the Sabres.
Will Kessel Get Traded by Coyotes During the Season?
It's no secret in which direction the Coyotes are heading. With Bill Armstrong entering his second season as the general manager and Andre Tourigny heading into his first as head coach, Arizona has undergone a lot of changes, and not only at the top.
This offseason, the Coyotes parted ways with numerous key players. Most notably, they traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks. And three-time Stanley Cup winning blueliner Niklas Hjalmarsson retired.
Could Phil Kessel be one of the next Arizona players to get traded? The 34-year-old forward is entering his third season with the team, which is much further away from contending than it was when it traded for Kessel in June 2019.
This is the final season of Kessel's contract, and he's unlikely to fit into the Coyotes' long-term plans. It would make sense for him to get moved at some point. And according to Dreger, that's what Kessel wants.
"He wants a fresh start," Dreger recently said on Insider Trading. "He wants to earn a new contract somewhere in the National Hockey League. He's got some no-trade protection. He wants to go to a competitor."
Kessel won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins before heading to the Coyotes. And if he's going to win another in 2021-22, it's almost certainly going to be with a new team.