Big week for potential Jack Eichel trade, free agency predictions

Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (9) takes a shot during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

Busy week ahead. Quickie blog:

Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams raised eyebrows Saturday night when he said he “would have no problem at all if Jack Eichel is on our team when we start training camp.”

Out of curiosity, I reached out to Jack Eichel’s reps about that possibility.

“Our expectation is that Jack is going to be traded in the near future, and all of our discussions have been centred around that issue,” came a dual response from Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli.

They wouldn’t comment further about Eichel’s status. He’s skating, but it’s believed he will still need surgery — although the Sabres haven’t approved his preferred choice, a disc replacement.

Adams moved Sam Reinhart (to Florida) and Rasmus Ristolainen (to Philadelphia) and maintains he will do the same with the captain once it makes sense for Buffalo. The hardest thing to handicap is who is in and who is out as a trade partner, because some teams back away at times, only to re-engage at a later point.

My guesses right now are some combination of Anaheim, Calgary, Minnesota and others I’m probably missing. Teammate Eric Engels reported Sunday he doesn’t think it will be Montreal. From what I’ve heard, the Canadiens have engaged, but not anywhere near a point Buffalo would say yes. The Rangers and Sabres have not been close in their conversations.

You’d think this would be a big week, because, once free agency begins, other clubs would go elsewhere if they make a move for Eichel.

GOALIES

This is going to be fascinating.

Toronto has made it clear finding Jack Campbell’s partner is its number one priority, and whatever cap room is left over will fill out the forward core. We know Philadelphia wants an experienced partner for Carter Hart.

Questions:

• If Braden Holtby isn’t traded, does he get bought out by Vancouver?

• Does Martin Jones get a new start somewhere, assuming a buyout from San Jose?

• Is Carolina’s next starter Antti Raanta, Frederik Andersen or someone else? (A few teams suspect the analytics-inclined Hurricanes love Raanta.)

• Where does Darcy Kuemper end up?

• What does Vegas do? There were rumblings they had a move for someone that fell through. I thought it might be Robin Lehner to New Jersey or Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago. I also wondered Detroit before the Red Wings traded for Alex Nedeljkovic, but I’m not expecting Steve Yzerman to reveal much.

• What is Colorado’s limit with Philipp Grubauer? The highest recent UFA goalie deal was Jordan Binnington’s 6×6, and it’s believed Grubauer’s ask was somewhere near there — but I don’t believe the Avalanche would go there. Is there a happy medium?

• What’s the market for Linus Ullmark?

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

QUALIFYING DEADLINE

Monday at 5 p.m. Going to be fascinating to see who does (and doesn’t) get qualified. Edmonton announced Sunday night that Dominik Kahun and Jujhar Khaira won’t get new offers. Those are good players caught in a cap squeeze.

Chicago is trying to move Nikita Zadorov after acquiring Seth Jones. Will they qualify him if they can’t? (Calvin de Haan could be available, too.)

SOME PREDICTIONS

Nothing like putting yourself out there to look stupid, but it’s been a long year so what the heck:

Free agency…

Dougie Hamilton: New Jersey

David Savard: Montreal

Gabriel Landeskog: not hugely confident in this prediction, but he and Colorado find a way

Blake Coleman: the prediction is, he gets 6×5

Jaden Schwartz: Seattle, basically done during the Kraken’s exclusive window

Brandon Saad: St. Louis, Islanders, Pittsburgh or Los Angeles

Kyle Palmieri: haven’t heard a thing, which means the Islanders probably have him locked up

Phillip Danault: Los Angeles takes a surprise look

Alec Martinez: stays in Vegas

Alex Goligoski: Minnesota

Derek Forbort: Boston

Zach Hyman: Edmonton. Makes me feel I’m getting one right

Alexander Ovechkin: 3×10 to stay in Washington

Ryan Suter: Dallas

Florida: locks up Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe.

Trades…

Ryan Strome: Seattle, Vegas or Ottawa.

Vladimir Tarasenko: Islanders or New Jersey. I think both those teams add something

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