NHL Rumors: Olympic opt-out expected, and why the Ducks said no on Jack Eichel

jack eichel
Eichel wearing his new team colors (Zak Krill/Vegas Golden Knights)

The NHL has now stopped a total of nine teams through the Holiday Break which ends on December 26 due to COVID.

The Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, and Edmonton Oilers are all shutdown.

In addition, over 40 games have been postponed including tomorrow’s matchup between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins.

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NHL Rumors: Olympic Opt-Out

As additional shutdowns are expected, including more games postponed, the NHL has reached a critical point where stopping for the Olympics would jeopardize the season.

On Sunday, a statement from the league and the players association said the two sides “are actively discussing the matter … and expect to be in a position to announce a final determination in the coming days.”

The deadline to opt-out is January 10, 2022.

Several top insiders are indicating that the NHL and NHLPA will formally announce they will not be attending in the coming days.

“Unfortunately, Olympics without NHL players appears to be reality, although formal announcement not for a few days,” Elliotte Friedman reported.

Why Ducks said no to Jack Eichel

Jack Eichel arrives in Vegas
Jack Eichel arrives in Vegas (photo courtesy Vegas Golden Knights)

The Buffalo Sabres finally ended all the drama by trading star forward Jack Eichel and a 2023 third-round draft pick to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday for forwards Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, a top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick.

Eichel, 25, is in the fourth year of an eight-year, $80 million contract. Vegas inherits his $10 million cap hit in full as no salary was retained.

He has 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 games, all with the Sabres. Buffalo took him No. 2 overall in the 2015 draft.

Before Vegas made the trade, several other teams were rumored to be in the mix but the ask was just too high. One of those teams were the Anaheim Ducks.

On the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Friedman revealed just what the Sabres wanted from Anaheim.

“I heard what the Sabres asked Anaheim for was Zegras, Drysdale, and two first rounders” he said. “Anaheim wasn’t willing to do that.”

Looking at that, and what the Sabres eventually got, you can understand why they said no.

Roster Freeze

One final note. The NHL roster freeze is in effect until December 28 – not that anyone was going to make a trade in the current environment.