NHL Rumors: Eichel progresses to resolution; Kings looking for defenseman; and Panthers to hire Tortorella?

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Jan 25, 2020; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Atlantic Division forward Jack Eichel (9) of the Buffalo Sabres battles for the puck with Pacific Division forward Anze Kopitar (11) of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2020 NHL All Star Game at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Insider Darren Dreger says that “the countdown is officially on” for Sabres center Jack Eichel. While one could assume that might mean a trade, it’s actually in reference to the grievance that Elliotte Friedman noted was likely to come this week.

“It could be a countdown to an NHLPA grievance more than a trade,” Dreger said. “That’s what Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and those that represent Jack Eichel, Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry, CAA Hockey, are working with right now.”

NHL Rumors: Eichel Grievance

Eichel, 24, was the #2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. He last played a game on March 7th against the Islanders and suffered an injury. Jack was later diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck.

This saga has been drawn out for quite some time. Whispers of him wanting out of Buffalo actually started at the end of the 2019-20 season but it reached a fever pitch after the injury.

“I think we are getting to the point where the grievance could come down to force a kind of move,” he said on Saturday’s 32 Thoughts segment last Saturday. “I think that sometime in the next week, two weeks max, the sense I’m getting is if there’s not a trade or an agreement between the Sabres and the Eichels on his medical path, I think you’re going to see Eichel file a grievance to see if he can move things along.”

Neck issues aside, it hasn’t stopped some teams from contacting the Sabres about a trade recently. The Vegas Golden Knights being mentioned by several insiders just this past week.

“Earlier this week, trade talks heated up with the Buffalo Sabres and now they seem to have cooled down a little bit but that can change with one simple phone call,” Dreger continued. “So the hope is from both sides, the player’s perspective and the Buffalo Sabres, that they do find a trade that works. Otherwise, his Player’s Association grievance is coming. If the trade does happen, Jack Eichel could be under the knife and having disk replacement surgery early next week.”

Kings in hunt for a defenseman

Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings will miss eight weeks and fellow defenseman Sean Walker will miss the rest of the season due to knee injuries, the team announced on Wednesday.

Doughty has a large bruise on the top of his right tibia, according to general manager Rob Blake. Walker tore the ACL and MCL ligaments in his right knee and will undergo surgery, the team stated.

Doughty, 31, was injured on Oct. 22 against the Dallas Stars when he was the recipient of a knee-to-knee hit from Dallas’ Jani Hakanpaa.

Kings trade rumors
Oct 22, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) lies on the ice after getting injured on a hit by Dallas Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa (not pictured) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This has the Kings in the market for a defenseman per Pierre LeBrun.

“Maybe not the kind of the trade the Kings would like to make in a perfect world because they’re hamstrung by the cap but the long-term injuries to two of their top four defensemen on the right side,” he explained. “[It] has them working the phones looking for, at least, a depth defenseman for the right side.”

Last night, the Kings had several scouts in the building. Per TFP’s Dennis Bernstein: Vancouver, Philadelphia, Nashville, NYI, Boston, Minnesota and Calgary were in attendance.

John Tortorella next Panthers coach?

Yesterday, Joel Quenneville announced his resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers.

“With deep regret and contrition, I announce my resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers,” he said in a statement. “I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach has suffered.”

Florida has made assistant Andrew Brunette the interim head coach.

Prior to Quenneville’s announcement, TV Analyst Kevin Weekes noted a coaching change was coming in Florida. “Keep an eye on my ESPN colleague John Tortorella as one of the top potential candidates,” he tweeted.

According to Pierre LeBrun no announcement is imminent, but Panthers GM Bill Zito was an assistant GM in Columbus during Torts’ tenure there.

The 63 year-old Torts is 12th all-time on the NHL’s win list. In 1383 games he has a record of 673-541-37-132. His postseason record is 56-64 winning a Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.