NHL Rumors: Flames, Maple Leafs, Sabres, Blues, More

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Johnny Gaudreau isn’t sharing details about contract talks with the Flames. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to find ways to free up a little salary. There are reports that Jack Eichel is willing to be traded anywhere and the Boston Bruins might be interested in a recently released defenseman from the Winnipeg Jets. Finally, Vladimir Tarasenko is looking to put all the trade talk behind him and get on with the season in St. Louis.

Gaudreau Not Talking About Negotiations

As per a report by TSN, Gaudreau isn’t offering much insight as to how contract talks might be going with the team. He is entering the final year of his deal and there has been speculation in the past that he could be a trade candidate as the team potentially makes changes.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When asked, Gaudreau noted, “It’s between my agent and I probably won’t answer many questions about that this season.” It’s not to suggest this means a trade is any more or less likely, only that Gaudreau would rather talk hockey during the season and not his status with the team.

Maple Leafs To Move Pieces, But Not Mikheyev

According to James Mirtle of The Athletic, the Maple Leafs might still be in a position where they elect to move salary off the roster and that could mean trading Pierre Engvall and his $1.25 million contract. Mirtle suggests trading him would make more sense than putting him on waivers. He said that most players the Leafs would put on waivers would be claimed and added:

Maybe that’s fine if you lose someone to Buffalo or Arizona on waivers. Maybe you can afford to sacrifice a Pierre Engvall for nothing if you have to, freeing up nearly enough salary to accommodate two league minimum payroll players.

source – ‘Mirtle: Will the Maple Leafs have to think trade to ease their cap and roster logjam?’ – James Mirtle – The Athletic – 09/20/2021
Pierre Engvall Toronto Maple Leafs
Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

One of the players everyone will be watching is Mikheyev. Reports surfaced he asked for a trade when the 2020-21 seasons came to a close but, as per a report by TSN, GM Kyle Dubas shut down any talks of a potential deal and wouldn’t even confirm Mikheyev requested a trade. He didn’t say a deal was impossible but noted he doesn’t have any plans to trade him. “Ilya is going to be on the team and is going to be a big part of the team,” Dubas said, adding any questions on a trade request should be directed to Mikheyev’s agent.”

Eichel Willing to Go Anywhere at This Point

According to Nick Kypreos, Jack Eichel has “made it clear he’s willing to go anywhere to facilitate a trade. One of 1/2 doz teams involved tell me a trade is doable as long as the @BuffaloSabres are willing to add “conditional” clauses around how he performs after surgery. ie .. games played, scoring etc.”

In other words, there are a lot of interested teams, but the concern is Eichel’s injury and the consequences of the surgery he wants to get. Teams want the Sabres to cover them in the event Eichel can’t play up to his standards or his career is in jeopardy with conditional picks. It sounds like the Sabres have been unwilling to do so.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Galchenyuk, Nylander, Gabriel & Kase

This also suggests there are teams out there willing to pay the Sabres’ asking price for Eichel, but want the picks as a backup in case the center struggles upon his arrival.

Tarasenko Doesn’t Want to be a Distraction

Now that St. Louis Blues’ training camp has started, Tarasenko has no desire to talk about a potential trade or his request to be moved by the team. He said, “I don’t see any reason to discuss it now. Camp starts. I don’t want to be a distraction in the room. I’m here to work. I’m healthy, I’m happy to play hockey again.”

Vladimir Tarasenko St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He also added he and his family love living in St. Louis and how he does this season in St. Louis could just be a matter of him and his teammates/training staff putting all of this behind them.

Bruins and Canadiens Interested in Niku?

According to NESN, the Boston Bruins might be a team to watch as Sami Niku tries to land another job in the NHL. Following the recent termination of the defenseman’s contract with the Winnipeg Jets, he cleared unconditional waivers Tuesday, so he’s now a free agent.

According to The Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston, Niku intends to continue playing in North America. For the Bruins, the player won’t get offers above $1 million so the Bruins can afford him and he’s got some potential upside, even if he’s not necessarily a regular NHLer with a guaranteed level of production.

** Update: Niku has signed with the Montreal Canadiens.

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