NHL Rumors: Tkachuk not feeling pressure to sign; and Rangers remain most logical destination for Eichel

Are the Rangers still the top landing spot for Eichel?

nhl rumors eichel rangers
Feb 7, 2020; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev (40) makes a save against Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks worked diligently to get two key pieces of their franchise under contract. Yesterday, they announced the signings of restricted free agents, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.

Which now leaves one top RFA left unsigned, and his holdout could last awhile.

NHL Rumors: Tkachuk not feeling pressure to sign

The Senators’ Brady Tkachuk is still holding out. According to a recent article from Bruce Garrioch it’s unlikely that his fellow RFA signings will impact his decision.

Given the fact, Pettersson and Hughes have agreed to deals, you had to wonder if that puts some pressure on Tkachuk. “You would think so, but it’s hard to tell with the (Tkachuk) family,” one league insider said. “He appears to be the last man standing, but I’m not sure he’d feel the pressure the same way others would.”

Ottawa Sun

Listen, Brady’s own brother Matt foreshadowed this scenario during the NHL’s Media Tour before camps opened.

“He might be pulling a classic Tkachuk right now. Dad held out, Matthew held out, and Brady looks like he’s on his way right now,” he told Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek. “So hopefully it can get figured out here.”

Brady Tkachuk NHL Rumors
Oct 8, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) skate up the ice during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been plenty of speculation over the summer, with some saying a long term deal was basically done. Yet, still here we are. Is it money or term? Is it no-trade protection, or salary/bonus structure? At this point, everyone is just guessing.

Bottom line, the Senators need the 22 year-old Tkachuk to be a competitive team. He scored 36 points in 56 games for the Sens last season.

Rangers still most logical destination for Jack Eichel

The Jack Eichel saga with the Buffalo Sabres is basically a bullet point list of negative events that dates back to last season up until this week.

  • Eichel voices frustration over losing after 2019-20 season
  • Sabres try to bring in players like Taylor Hall but team still struggles
  • Eichel gets injured, seeks second opinion and wants artificial disc replacement
  • Sabres field trade calls, ask for at least 4 top future pieces
  • No deal can be reached due to ask and unwillingness to release medical info
  • Eichel makes trade request public, switches agents
  • Sabres strip Eichel of C after he fails medical at camp
  • Surgery stalemate continues
  • Sabres now make medical info on injury available to interested teams

There has been a lot of talk regarding Eichel, but now that Buffalo is at least empowering teams to review the medical records there appears to be hope.

If a team does trade for Eichel, they likely will need to be comfortable with his desire for an artificial disc replacement. There will also likely need to be some conditions attached to any trade that team makes. But the season has begun, and most teams have moved on from an Eichel trade and spent their cap money. So who still makes sense? Vegas was rumored but have no cap space now. Minnesota was mentioned in the mix, but they only have $3M in cap space after signing Kaprizov.

You can also forget Montreal or Boston for that matter with little cap space. So who?

I asked around, and although Anaheim seems like a logical destination it keeps coming back to the New York Rangers.

One knowledgeable league source, familiar with the Rangers told me that they still make the most sense. The Rangers are not impressing anyone so far in the preseason, and have $9 million in cap space to play with. They could move out some other players to make Eichel’s $10M AAV fit this season.

So is a deal in the cards? The Rangers have some great young players but Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko are considered untouchables. Maybe the Sabres, after seeing Zac Jones up close realize he’s got top 4 potential? Or are impressed by 2021 first round pick Brennan Othmann’s camp? Of course, that’s not the only assets the Rangers have to move, but are examples.

At the end of the day, the Rangers have the pieces, cap space, and desire to trade for Eichel. Not sure many other teams do.