NHL News & Rumors: Sharks, Sabres, Coyotes, Maple Leafs, Senators

In today’s NHL news and rumors rundown, it has been discovered what the NHL is investigating Evander Kane for when it was revealed he allegedly broke a rule related to COVID protocols. Meanwhile, there might be good news when it comes to Jack Eichel and a possible trade. Phil Kessel is not in the long-term plans for the Arizona Coyotes and the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely hold off on re-signing Morgan Rielly. Finally, are the Ottawa Senators prepared to start the 2021-22 season without their star player?

NHL Investigating Evander Kane Over Fake COVID Card

On Tuesday, it was learned why the NHL is, yet again, investigating troubled San Jose Sharks’ forward Evander Kane. It has been noted that he’s been accused of using fake COVID-19 vaccine card. If found guilty, this could pose serious consequences for Kane.

Evander Kane San Jose Sharks
Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fake vaccine cards are illegal in both the U.S. and Canada, and the NHL has already announced serious consequences for breaking protocols in regards to the virus., including but not limited to forfeiture of games, fines, reimbursements of expenses, and loss of draft choices. The Sharks have already told Kane to sit out as he’s being investigated and has not been at camp with his team or played in preseason games.

Still with San Jose, center Tomas Hertl could be one of the bigger names that might be available at some point this season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent and Pierre LeBrun noted “If the Sharks are out of a playoff spot come March 21st trade deadline and Hertl doesn’t have a change of heart, I think that’s a guy that could be in play. “

Eichel Situation Turning in a Positive Direction?

According to Darren Dreger of TSN, “Sources say the Eichel saga may be shifting.” He adds, “Ongoing discussions and additional access to Jack Eichel’s medical file has helped teams with trade interest clearly see his situation. Both sides are hopeful something can be worked out soon with one of the clubs in the mix.”

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Elliotte Friedman added in his 32 Thoughts article, that while no one will go on record, there is a growing belief that more than one team is willing to accept Eichel’s preferred disc replacement surgery. If so, the next step is either making the trade, which has proven difficult for some based on the Sabres ask. The second step is getting him healthy — which should be the number-one priority once a team acquires him.

Coyotes Eyeing Kessel Trade

Dreger also reports that fans and other NHL GMs should expect that Phil Kessel will be moved this season as he’s not in the long-term plans for the Arizona Coyotes. During Tuesday’s edition of Insider Trading, Dreger noted:

“Kessel is in the final year of his contract with the Arizona Coyotes. We also know that (general manager) Bill Armstrong and the Coyotes have defined the direction that they’re going in, and that will not include Phil Kessel.

He wants a fresh start, 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 competitive, if not a contending team, if you will.

Related: Maple Leafs New Look Power Play Could Be Key to Their Success

While Kessel still has a fairly big cap hit, his actual salary is only $1 million. As the trade deadline approaches, or if another team is hit with a serious long-term injury, he could be a good fit. Now 34 years old, Kessel registered 20 goals and 23 assists over 56 games last season.

Maple Leafs to Wait on Morgan Rielly

According to Friedman, don’t expect a quick decision when it comes to the future of Rielly in Toronto. He writes, “I think Toronto lets things play out before making any decision”. He adds that it’s not just about what it costs to extend the defenseman to a deal but what else the team needs to do cap-wise after they sign him.

Morgan Rielly Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Friedman adds that the overall performance of the team will heavily factor into the organization’s decision. The NHL insider believes trade/no-move protection will be a key part of the negotiations as it reportedly was with Zach Hyman before he left to join the Edmonton Oilers.

Senators Prepared to Start Season Without Tkachuk

As per a report by Chris Johnston, he gets the sense that things are not close between the Ottawa Senators and Brady Tkachuk and that the team is prepared to start the regular season without the forward signed. He notes, “Team sources say they can reach the salary cap floor even without him under contract to start the year. So, the Senators aren’t feeling any pressure to get this deal done by Monday’s 5 p.m. EST deadline when all teams must be cap compliant.”

Reports are still that Tkachuk wants a shorter-term deal while the Senators remain focused on a long-term deal.

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