NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Sabres, Stars, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli lists three options for the Toronto Maple Leafs after this rough start to the 2021-22 NHL season. Meanwhile, two NHL insiders look at the teams rumored to be in the Jack Eichel trade conversations. Initial reports about what John Klingberg is looking for on an extension might be conservative and there appear to be big organizational changes coming to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Maple Leafs Have Three Options

NHL insider Frank Seravalli joined the FAN Morning Show to talk about the three options the Maple Leafs have to try and fix the issues going on in Toronto right now. The first being fire the coach. The second is to make a huge trade. The third is to triple down on the roster as is.

Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Seravalli says he doesn’t see the Leafs firing the coach.  “I just don’t see it,” he said. He added, “Sheldon Keefe just got an extension and we just talked about the big three not holding up their end of the bargain. And it’s not on him.” If a trade is made, Seravalli also believes it would have to be Mitch Marner that gets moved. He explains, “He has value. Talented player. Tough playoff runs. Not doing it this year. Huge salary cap hit. All those things come together.  I don’t see the Leafs being at that point.”

Related: Time For Maple Leafs To Admit The Kyle Dubas Experiment Has Failed

What Seravalli thinks the Leafs are doing now is showing confidence that this group can fight their way out of this slump.

Teams Interested in Eichel

While the situation in Buffalo still feels a long way from being worked out between the Sabres and Jack Eichel, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek took another look at the teams that might have an interest in the center. Marek examined the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken more closely, while Friedman mentioned teams like the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins.

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Both hosts of the 32 Thoughts podcast said they don’t get the sense that anyone’s close to a deal and the only teams that really should be considered possible options are teams that aren’t contending and have plenty of cap space. As for the Sabres, they certainly aren’t going to lower their asking price with how well the team is currently playing.

Klingberg Wants More than Originally Reported

Marek noted last week that Stars’ defenseman John Klingberg was looking for somewhere between $62-$68 million on a long-term extension. The Athletic’s Saad Yousef offered a follow-up and noted these numbers are just a starting point and the blueliner is looking for more than that.

John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars
John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Marek’s report has Klingberg coming in at around $7.75 million and $8.25 million per season. Yousef writes:

Sources confirmed to The Athletic that the mid-$60 million range is a starting point for Klingberg’s contract but the belief is that the Stars defenseman is a $9 million to $9.5 million player. The negotiations now are about making the term and the money agree. Klingberg’s camp hasn’t taken a hard stance resulting in a stalemate, and Klingberg has made it known that he wants to be in Dallas. But there’s also the knowledge that this is likely Klingberg’s last chance to land a big contract. Any hometown discount the Stars get has to mesh with Klingberg getting what he has proven he deserves.

source – ‘Exploring John Klingberg’s potential next contract with the Stars — Is he worth the likely asking price?’ – Saad Yousef – The Athletic – 1021/2021

Blue Jackets Trying to Find Fan Who Taunted Merzlikins

In a disturbing and sad story, Blue Jacket’s goaltender Elvis Merzlinkins was taunted during a game by a fan wearing a Dallas Stars sweater regarding the off-season death of a friend and former teammate Matiss Kivlenieks. The taunting took place as he and his Blue Jackets teammates came out of the tunnel for the start of the game.

In an update on Tuesday, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports that Blue Jackets’ and Nationwide Arena security are attempting to identify the fan. It’s not clear what the intention is, other than to perhaps report them to the NHL and ensure they aren’t allowed access to future games.

Organizational Shakeup Coming to Blackhawks

Mark Lazerus is reporting: “Multiple sources say “organizational changes” are coming to the Blackhawks as part of the Jenner & Block findings.” The team is planning to brief the media on the findings in the afternoon on Tuesday and it is being reported that both owner Rocky Wirtz and CEO Danny Wirtz will speak at the press briefing, as will Reid Schar, who headed the investigation.