NHL Rumors: Penguins, Sabres, Canadiens, Canucks, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the Buffalo Sabres have stripped Jack Eichel of his captaincy. Where does that put the team and the player? The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Evgeni Malkin will miss a couple of months due to his injuries. Are the Penguins playoff chances gone? The Montreal Canadiens have announced a few key injuries from training camp and the Vancouver Canucks think they’re close on extensions for their two big RFAs.

Canadiens Announce Multiple Injuries

According to the Canadiens official training camp list, there are a number of injuries worth reporting, including those to Mike Hoffman, Paul Bryon, Joel Teasdale, Josh Brook and goaltender Carey Price. The Canadiens have announced that all players are likely out for the remainder of camp.

Joel Edmundson is listed as day-to-day — he skated solo after the other players left the ice — and Brendan Gallagher is not at camp for personal family reasons.

Malkin Out Two Months After Surgery

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced, via general manager Ron Hextall, that 35-year-old center Evgeni Malkin will miss at least the first two months of the season while recovering from offseason knee surgery. If you couple this news with the fact that Sidney Crosby is likely to miss some time early on, this is not good news for the organization.

Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Malkin has missed an incredible amount of games throughout his NHL career (169) and as he ages, it will be interesting to see how his health affects contract talks. Hextall did say there were no updates to provide when it comes to an extension for Malkin either. He is on the final season of a $9.5 million per year contract.

As for what the Penguins can do to increase their odds of making the postseason, Hextall said Thursday:

“We’re going to have some guys that will have an opportunity to show us some things that they probably wouldn’t otherwise. We need some guys to step up. Just seeing the chemistry of our group last year, there’s a good feel this year. I think we all know we’re up against it. I think our guys are ready for the challenge.”

Sabres Strip Eichel of Captaincy

We reported yesterday that Elliotte Friedman wrote in his ’32 thoughts’ blog that the Sabres were expected to strip Eichel of his captaincy. On Thursday morning, that’s exactly what the Sabres did. GM Kevyn Adams addressed the media and updated everyone that Eichel failed his physical and that surgery is required. However, because Eichel will not accept Sabres’ desire for fusion surgery, the team feels the need to relieve him from his duties as team captain.

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

Adams explained:

“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres. From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”

Related: NHL Must Stop Punishing McDavid & Other Stars For Being Too Good

The Sabres have stuck firm on the idea that denying the artificial disk replacement is the right way to go. One thing is clear, Eichel could probably care less that the Sabres stripped of him his captaincy. At this point, it’s all about figuring out what to do about surgery and whether or not he’ll have a future playing in the NHL. If the Sabres won’t let him get the surgery he wants, Eichel needs to figure out a way to get out that organization, which is something already proven to be much easier said than done.

Korpisalo Not Worried About Merzlikins Deal

Considering the Columbus Blue Jackets just signed Elvis Merzlikins to a big contract extension, it was logical questions about what GM Jarmo Kekalainen would do with his other goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo surfaced. The GM said he’s spoken with Korpisalo about a new deal and that the netminder isn’t phased by his goaltending partner’s new deal.

Kekalainen said, “I think his attitude is perfect about it. He said to me, he’s not going to worry about this at all. He’s going to have a great season and go from there.”

Canucks Say They’re Close on Hughes and Pettersson Extensions

As per Farhan Lalji, Canucks GM Jim Benning noted that when it comes to RFAs Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson: “I don’t think we are that far apart.” This runs counter to the reports of some NHL insiders who say there hasn’t been much progress made in contract talks and the team and the players are no closer to a deal being done than they were days, and even weeks ago.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe