NHL Rumors: Canucks, Maple Leafs, Panthers, Sabres, Canadiens…

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Vancouver Canucks have made an official statement in regards to the status of defenseman Travis Hamonic. Did he opt-out of the season? Did anyone else in the NHL? The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed an undrafted prospect to a three-year entry-level, the Florida Panthers are actively working on a deal for Aleksander Barkov, and could Jack Eichel have the surgery he wants despite the risk he’ll have to pay for it himself, will be suspended by the Buffalo Sabres and will miss out on millions of dollars?

Hamonic Not Opting Out of NHL Season

Unclear about where Hamonic stood, the Canucks have finally received word when it comes to what Hamonic will do this season. GM Jim Benning made an official statement on Hamonic’s situation and noted: 

 “We’ve received confirmation that Travis Hamonic will not be opting out this season. He remains at home, dealing with some personal matters. We continue to support him, and out of respect for the situation, we will have no further comment at this time.”

This does not offer clarity as to whether or not Hamonic will join the Canucks this season. He’s yet to report to camp and while talk is that he’s not anti-vaccination, it is unclear if complications with COVID are keeping him away.

Friday was the NHL’s deadline for players to chose to opt-out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. To that end, NHL insider Chris Johnston reports that no NHL players are expected to opt-out of the 2021-22 season.

Maple Leafs Sign Braeden Kressler

The Maple Leafs have signed 18-year-old center Braeden Kressler to a three-year entry-level contract, as per agent Dan Milstein on Twitter, and then later confirmed by the team. Kressler attended Toronto’s training camp as an undrafted free agent. He was eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft but was not selected.

Kressler is one of those players who, because of the canceled OHL season last year, fell through the cracks a bit and was not able to showcase what he could do. He’s a crafty, but scrappy winger, but also defensively responsible. The Maple Leafs must believe he can grow into something more.

PuckPedia reports broked down his $835,000 cap hit:

2021-22: $750,000 salary, $75,000 SB, $80,000 minors salary
2022-23: $750,000 salary, $75,000 SB, $80,000 minors salary
2023-24: $775,000 salary, $80,000 SB, $80,000 minors salary

Barkov and Panthers Getting Closer to New Extension

According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period:

The Florida Panthers are engaged in ongoing negotiations on a contract extension with captain Aleksander Barkov. Per sources, talks are progressing slowly, but there is optimism a deal can be reached by the start of the reg-season (which is not currently considered a deadline).

Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN points out that Barkov is entering the last year of his six-year contract with the Panthers. He adds that GM Bill Zito was asked about a deadline date to sign a new deal before he’d have to consider a trade. Zito responded he’s not set a deadline because: “I’m confident we’ll be able to work something out.”

Sami Niku Suffers Concussion

According to a few reports, newly-acquired Sami Niku has a concussion after the Josh Norris hit in Ottawa. As per an official announcement on their Twitter account (translated to English), they write: “Dominique Ducharme confirms that Sami Niku suffered a concussion in Friday night’s game, which will keep him out for a period of time.”

Could Eichel Get Surgery He Wants?

Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports that because Jack Eichel is refusing to take the Sabres medical advice to have the fusion surgery, he risks not getting paid and could be suspended by the team. The scribe suggests the only way to break this stalemate and to eventually get traded is to have the surgery he wants (but the Sabres are denying) anyways, get healthy and make himself attractive to more NHL teams.

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

Harrington writes:

Yes, he’ll get suspended by the Sabres. But that might happen anyway when the season starts and Eichel isn’t available to play because he has rejected the club’s medical advice. Yes, he’ll lose his salary in that timeframe and he’ll be paying for a procedure to fix an injury that came during a game and not from some off-ice mishap. But if he is so sure this is the procedure that will get him back on the ice, he should go do it.

source – ‘Mike Harrington: Jack Eichel should assume some risk and go have his surgery’ – Mike Harrington – Buffalo News – 10/01/2021

It’s a terrible situation, but one that the NHL and NHLPA didn’t anticipate when they collectively bargained their new deal. There are also conflicting reports about whether or not the Sabres are sharing Eichel’s medical records with other teams.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner weighed in on the subject of Eichel and how he’s being treated by the team. He argued that the team wants him to have a surgery that will leave him in pain the rest of his life and the player’s association isn’t helping out:

Where is the @nhlpa and all NHL players in all this attacks on our freedom of choice? Jack situation is crazy to me.. also people getting attacked by journalist that hides behind freedom of speech to trash peoples freedom of choice. When does the hypocrisy end?

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