There are some intensely interesting situations hovering on the horizon while the NHL playoffs dominate the news. While the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche begin the most anticipated series in a few years, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a huge decision looming with center Evgeni Malkin. If he waived his no-movement clause and hit the NHL Trade market, would the Florida Panthers, who have been monitoring the situation, bite on the chance?
Sources with direct knowledge of the situation gave a little more insight into one side of the process for the New York Islanders vanquished rival.
There is a bigger potential get on the NHL trade market than Malkin, as everyone continues to watch the Jack Eichel saga in Buffalo. Given the drama, could/will the Buffalo Sabres get full value on the NHL trade market for Eichel?
And has Mike Babcock been blacklisted?
That and more in the latest ‘Off The Record.’
1. If They Can Move Bobrovsky, Will Panthers Get Malkin?
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang may want to keep the band together in Pittsburgh and see him, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin go for one more shot at Lord Stanley. Still, if the Penguins are to get out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs again, changes are likely needed. The most obvious change would be trading the enigmatic Malkin, who is entering a walk year. In the past couple of years, there have been numerous rumors that Malkin would waive his no-movement clause to go to the Florida Panthers. According to one NHL source with direct knowledge of the situation, those rumors could become a reality. The problem is, as currently constituted, the Panthers can’t absorb the one year at $9.5 million remaining on Malkin’s contract if they wanted to acquire him.
Off the record:
“I think there is and has been mutual interest there,” the source told OTR recently. “The problem is they’re about to roll the Brink’s truck up for [Sasha] Barkov, and they’re stuck with [Sergei] Bobrovsky. He lives down there in the offseason, his family loves it there but a.) do the Panthers want him? And b.) Bobrovsky
2. Eichel Price Not As High As Many Think?
In the latest Sportsnet Saturday Hockey Headlines, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported that the Sabres and captain Jack Eichel were looking to sit down and discuss the future for the disgruntled star center. Eichel has yet to officially demand a trade out of the Buffalo Sabers mess, but he has hinted on more than one occasion that he would be OK with officially being on the NHL Trade market.
That has led to widespread speculation and NHL trade rumors on where Eichel could end up and the potential price to acquire him. While the common belief is a young NHL talent, a first-round pick, and a blue-chip prospect, one NHL management source wondered if that’s really what the haul will be to acquire the 2015 second overall pick?
Off the record:
“Is Jack worth all that?” the source asked rhetorically. “Hell yeah! But look, everyone knows he wants out even if he hasn’t said it. His hints have been there, and they know that Kevyn (Sabres interim GM Kevyn Adams) is in a pickle. He’s going to do all he can to help them now and in the future in this trade, but the reality is that the GM’s after Jack has got Adams in a corner, and in the end, he’s probably taking less than his worth if he trades him right now.”
3. Is Mike Babcock Blacklisted?
Speaking of the Rangers, when they fired their head coach David Quinn a week later, Hall of Fame hockey scribe Larry Brooks reported that Triple Gold (Olympics, World Championship, Stanley Cup) winner and coaching UFA Mike Babcock would be a candidate to replace Quinn. As of Sunday and 18 days after that report, there had been no confirmation that the Rangers had interviewed Babcock. However, they have interviewed Rick Tocchet and Gerard Gallant.
Babcock’s name has not been present in coaching rumors surrounding the Seattle Kraken and Arizona Coyotes vacancies. He also hasn’t gotten any love in recent speculation of coaching changes with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres, whom he spurned at the last minute to take his last NHL coaching gig with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Has the whole Mitch Marner fiasco and the tarnishing his name has taken after being fired by the Leafs left Babcock blacklisted?
Note: Elliotte Friedman squashed that speculation surrounding Mike Sullivan in Pittsburgh on that same Hockey Headlines broadcast.
Off the record:
“I don’t think I’d say ‘blacklisted but let’s just say I don’t see him getting another NHL job just yet,” an NHL source said. “In this climate, after all that happened, it’s going to be hard for him right now. I think if he wants, sooner or later, he can find work, but I just don’t see it right now.”
Babcock is currently a volunteer head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Men’s Hockey team.