NHL Rumors: Rangers in on Eichel; Letang 50/50 to return with Pens next season; and Hertl in play at trade deadline?

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May 18, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) takes the ice against the New York Islanders during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Dreger’s report on a potential Jack Eichel trade yesterday certainly fanned the flames on rumors. What we’ve learned since is that any team trading for Eichel would be amicable to letting him have an artificial disc replacement over the traditional fusion surgery.

Now, everyone is trying to figure out which teams are in and who could the team close to a potential deal be?

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NHL Rumors: Rangers in on Eichel

I reported yesterday that the Blueshirts were indeed in on Jack Eichel, although Dreger in a recent spot on TSN provided the following info:

“I’m told, there are a few teams in the mix and speculation suggests that it may be one of the West Coast Teams,” he said. “Could it be the Los Angeles Kings? Maybe it’s the Anaheim Ducks. Then you shift over to the East. Is it the New York Rangers? Well, Rangers sources say nope, not them. L.A. sources downplay, Ducks sources downplay. So, I mean, you literally have to look across the NHL and wonder.”

nhl rumors jack eichel
Jan 30, 2020; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) looks to make a pass during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

A source I’ve spoken to indicated that Chris Drury would rather misdirect than tip his hand.

Then later in the evening, Nick Kypreos, who still has ties to the organization reported that the Rangers are indeed in. “Some NHL teams like NY Rangers who are in on Eichel are passed medical issues,” he tweeted. “It appears NYR will support Jack for artificial disc replacement surgery providing they can come to terms on a hockey trade with Buffalo Sabres. No indication they’re close on a deal.”

I’ve also learned that the Rangers will be in on Jack Eichel up until Mika Zibanejad signs an extension.

Kris Letang 50/50 to return to the Penguins

Letang, 34, is entering the final season of his contract that comes with an AAV of $7.25 million. Last season he registered 45 points in 55 games. So what is the future of this All-Star defenseman with 582 career points?

According to Pierre LeBrun, there’s a 50/50 chance he returns to the Pittsburgh Penguins next season.

“There have been several conversations between Letang’s camp and Penguins management throughout the offseason, I’m told, but nothing imminent as far as an extension,” LeBrun writes. “A short-term deal is possible from the team’s perspective but all things being equal, I think Letang himself is willing to be patient here to see how the season plays out…This one could go either way.”

Tomas Hertl Trade Deadline bound?

tomas hertl trade rumors
Oct 30, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) skates with the puck during the second period against the New York Rangers at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Hertl will be 28 years-old when his current deal with a $5.625M cap hit expires. Last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games. For his NHL career he’s registered 323 points in 503 contests.

“I’m not thinking about what will happen next season, will the Sharks extend me or if they don’t want me there,” he said this summer. “I’m just going to play my best hockey and help my teammates.”

Per reports, the Sharks told inquiring teams in the offseason that they were still hopeful to work things out. What remains to be seen is if the Sharks will be a contender come the NHL Trade Deadline. If so, the belief is both sides will want to continue the relationship.

Otherwise, Hertl would be one of the top trade bait candidates of the season.