NHL Rumors: Blackhawks, Sabres, Kraken, Maple Leafs, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Chicago Blackhawks are still shopping Dylan Strome, but what are the odds he’s traded during the offseason? Meanwhile, a new report suggests Jack Eichel will miss the start of upcoming the NHL season, while Jaden Schwartz admitted that he wasn’t sure he was going to return to the NHL this season. Finally, Auston Matthews has responded to GM Kyle Dubas’ bet on his players.

Strome Still Being Shopped by Blackhawks

Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the added depth acquired this offseason has made it even more likely to see Strome moved off the roster. With Kirby Dach the pivot for the top line and Jonathan Toews returning to the roster, Strome is likely to be shuffled to the wing after the acquisition of Tyler Johnson.

Dylan Strome Chicago Blackhawks
Dylan Strome, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Strome hasn’t been strong as a winger in his NHL career and that’s not where the Blackhawks ideally want him to be. Pope writes:

Dylan Strome — who doesn’t play well on the wing but only reasonably fits there on the 2021-22 Hawks — remains a trade possibility, but the odds of that decrease with each day. If Toews isn’t ready in September or October, Strome might get another opportunity as the second-line center. If Toews is ready, Strome remains a wild card.

source – ‘Projecting Blackhawks’ 2021-22 depth chart: How will a crowded field sort out?’ – Ben Pope – The Chicago Sun Times

Essentially, this suggests Strome’s future is dependent on Toews’. The closer Toews is to returning the more likely the Blackhawks are ready to move Strome.

Eichel Will Miss Start of NHL Season

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is reporting that multiple sources note that Eichel still hasn’t undergone either option on a surgery to repair a herniated disc. Regardless of which way he and the team elect to go, it seems doubtful that he’ll get clearance and that means he won’t be available for the start of the season.

Jack Eichel Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Eichel still wants the Artificial Disc Replacement surgery while the Sabres are opposed to it. It seems Eichel is starting to grow frustrated and he posted an unamused face emoji tweet this past week. A delay in starting the 2021-22 season doesn’t mean the number of interested teams will go down. The report suggests the Anaheim Ducks, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames continue to be linked to Eichel.

In addition, despite all the delays, the asking price for Eichel hasn’t changed from a Sabres’ perspective. The Sabres want approximately four key assets: a combination of young NHL-proven/ready talent and top prospects and a first-round draft pick.

Jaden Schwartz Wasn’t Sure He’d Keep Playing

Saying last season was extremely tough on himself mentally, Schwartz admitted in a recent report covered by Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, “I didn’t even know if I was going to come back.” He said he came back for his parents who wanted him to play and for his teammates who he thought were relying on him.

Jaden Schwartz St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He added:

“I tried to do everything I could, but mentally and physically, I wasn’t where I needed to be. It was the toughest year I’ve ever had in my life. I know I didn’t finish well with the Blues, and that sucks, but I wasn’t mentally ready for an NHL season at all. But I’m doing a lot better now. Mentally, I’m in a better spot, and I was able to train. I feel fresh again.”

source – ‘‘I feel fresh again’: Jaden Schwartz ready to move on after a season he almost didn’t play following his dad’s death’ – Jeremy Rutherford – The Athletic – 08/23/2021

Schwartz said one of the big factors in selecting the Kraken in free agency was how close his family would be to come see him play. He also liked the ownership group and city.

Matthews Says He Knows Dubas Believes

During an interview with ESPN, Matthews responded to general manager Kyle Dubas’ “bet” that the current roster would finally be able to overcome the hurdle of being eliminated early in the playoffs. Dubas said he would “bet everything” Toronto would find a way to win the Stanley Cup.

Matthews commented on Dubas’ statement and said he knows this team is close and believes in each other. Matthews added:

“I don’t think that’s news to us. We know that’s how he feels. When he reiterates that, it gives us confidence moving forward. That’s all you can ask for, that your general manager and all your teammates truly believe in one another.”