The National Hockey League's transaction freeze officially lifted on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, allowing teams the ability again to make trades and re-sign their own players. During the transaction freeze, though, teams were able to continue trade talks, but could not make any pending move official.
As for the Buffalo Sabres, they continue to talk with teams around the NHL regarding their top-three trade pieces this offseason in Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen. With the 2021 NHL Draft quickly approaching on Friday night, time is ticking if Buffalo is keen on acquiring another first round pick this year.
While Eichel's name has been largely talked about in trade discussions, the heat is not reportedly picking up on Reinhart, who is set to become a restricted free agent as of Wednesday, July 28.
"I've heard there's a ton of interest. I've heard [the Sabres] are asking for a first rounder and a prospect," said Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman on Thursday during his weekly appearance with Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet on WGR. "The difference with Reinhart is that he has a bit more leverage, because he's one year away from [becoming an unrestricted free agent]. It's kind of like what's going on with Seth Jones right now is that he's one year away from [unrestricted free agent status], so the leverage is really tipped towards him. You know with Eichel, at least you have five years of contract time. I think there's a ton of interest."
While the Sabres control his rights for one more season, it appears as though his time is coming to a close in Buffalo sooner rather than later. The 25-year-old let go of some of his frustrations at his end-of-season conference call back in May, saying he's disappointed to not be playing in any meaningful games at the end of the year. He also expressed his disinterest of potentially having to go through another year of re-building with the Sabres.
Reinhart will be a restricted free agent for the third time in his NHL career, with the first two times seeing him sign a bridge-type contract to stay in Buffalo. If Reinhart signs another one-year contract this offseason, he will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, free to sign with whichever team he so chooses.
As for the teams potentially interested in Reinhart's services, Friedman said that a lot of the teams that have called about Eichel are also inquiring about his longtime friend in Buffalo. Teams like the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks have reportedly gauged the trade market for Reinhart, with another team in the Eastern Conference potentially getting in on the action.
"I think [Philadelphia] is not in on Eichel anymore, but I do think they have talked about Reinhart and [Ristolainen]," Friedman said. "But now they've got [Ryan] Ellis, so I would think they'd be out on [Ristolainen]."
As for Eichel, Friedman provided plenty of insight on the latest with his situation.
While teams are calling with interest in acquiring the 24-year-old center, some appear hesitant to make any serious offer with the Sabres until they get their hands on Eichel's medical records, especially with his herniated disk in his neck being a major question mark.
"I reported a while ago that the Sabres were being very careful with this," Friedman said. "I think with the Sabres, it's been more of a 'no.' I think that Eichel would be willing to do it. I just think Buffalo [will not do it until they know teams] are really serious."
It is being reported that the Wild are still engaging in trade discussions with the Sabres on Eichel, but it is believed the asking price from general manager Kevyn Adams is incredibly sky-high. Larry Brooks from the New York Post also says there remains interest in Eichel from the New York Rangers, but the team has yet to receive access to his medical records.
While speaking with Jeff Marek on his "31 Thoughts: The Podcast" earlier in the week, Friedman said it appeared as though three teams had pulled out of trade discussions regarding Eichel, including the Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames.
However, on Thursday, Friedman believed that one of those three teams were back in the mix for the Sabres captain.
"I do think Anaheim has circled back," Friedman said. "I'm just not sure with Zegras, Drysdale and the third overall pick; I think if you get two of those [assets], that's a pretty big deal. For me, the biggest question I have with Anaheim is, 'What do they value more? Zegras or Drysdale?' I think in a deal [with Anaheim] you're probably getting the third pick, but what are you getting with that?"
In case you missed any of Friedman's interview with "The Instigators," you can listen to it below: