Lots of great sports to watch on a Thursday night. Some hockey stuff to supplement this smorgasbord:
• The Sabres had an “introductory meeting” with Jack Eichel’s new representatives. Both sides are trying to keep things very quiet, but, as of yet, word is there’s no resolution. As with many of our own responsibilities, several NHL situations picked up steam after Labour Day. I do believe Buffalo re-engaged with interested teams to see where everyone stands. We will see where things go.
• Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion (with a fresh contract extension) told the FAN 590 morning show on Thursday, “Are we confident (restricted free agent Brady Tkachuk) will be signed by the time camp starts? Yes. These negotiations aren’t always easy and they take me a bit more time.” Over the last little while, the word is the Senators and Tkachuk have been grinding away on a long-term deal — believed to be similar to Thomas Chabot’s 8×8 extension. If that can’t get done soon, it’s very possible the two sides will switch to something shorter. What that says to me is both sides agree getting Tkachuk in camp is a priority.
• I think there’s been more progress on Quinn Hughes than Elias Pettersson in Vancouver. I do wonder if Pettersson is waiting to see where Kirill Kaprizov’s contract comes down in Minnesota.
• According to several sources, Toronto winger Ilya Mikheyev asked for a trade following the 2020-21 season. But, what is important to the story is that the Maple Leafs made it clear they do not want to accommodate this request. With Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton gone from the left wing, the organization told Mikheyev it considers him a key part of their team and are counting on him to have a big year.
Neither GM Kyle Dubas nor agent Dan Milstein were willing to comment. At issue appears to be role and ice-time, heading into the final year of his contract. His 14:13 per game last season was eighth among Toronto forwards. Mikheyev’s impressive 23-point, 39-game rookie season was cut short by an accidental — but serious — skate cut to his wrist. (Dubas stayed with him in hospital after the team returned from New Jersey to Toronto.) He had seven goals and 17 points in 2020-21, going pointless in the playoffs. He’s a talented guy, and if he could get his shooting percentage higher (6.5 last season), it could be a real breakthrough for him and the team.
• There’s been a lot of talk about San Jose’s Tomas Hertl, headed into his final season before unrestricted free agency. That intensified when the centre told Czech-based iDNES.cz, “I wonder if San Jose will want to re-sign me, and if I’ll want to stay there. … I’ll start the season and see how it turns out.” I’d love to see the incoming-call log on Sharks GM Doug Wilson’s phone, but word is he’s told other teams that it is San Jose’s desire to make this work, and that message will be delivered once Hertl arrives.
• After Christian Dvorak was traded to Montreal, there were some Jakob Chychrun rumours. I don’t believe those, but I do think there will be a lot of eyes on Phil Kessel once the season begins. There were some conversations around the draft (the Sharks came up there, too, but that’s not going to happen). If he starts out hot, things are going to intensify in a hurry.
• Finally, a couple clubs indicated they were expecting Tyler Bozak’s decision on where to play in the next few days. The 764-game veteran has a couple of options. Wonder if one is Pittsburgh, with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin injured to start the year.