For the past few months, the possibility of a Jack Eichel trade has frequented the NHL rumour mill. Don’t get too excited just yet, though. There are still plenty of questions to be answered before any team considers proposing a trade. It would also mean the Buffalo Sabres need to agree too, here is why that is unlikely.
Jack Eichel Trade Seems Unlikely
What Does Eichel Want?
Late last year, Eichel bluntly said that he’s “fed up with losing”. He has every right to be frustrated. The Sabres currently have about twice as many losses as they do wins. On top of that, they’re sporting a four-game losing streak. Thus, it’s easy to see why, as a professional athlete and competitor, Eichel would want out. He knows he has the potential to win, but he can’t carry the Sabres to a Cup on his back. So, one alternative after years of losing is to look for a team with players that can foster and build upon his talent instead. It’s that simple.
Would Teams be Willing to Trade for Eichel?
When a player of Eichel’s calibre is shopped, there will certainly be teams that are interested. The New York Rangers are a prime candidate, as their offence currently lies in shambles in the absence of winger Artemi Panarin. The Boston Bruins seem interested, too. With two-thirds of the “Perfection Line” nearing the back end of their careers, Boston needs to inject its offence with younger talent.
The bigger question here is whether an Eichel trade would be worth it for these teams. The Rangers and Bruins are in a similar space money-wise, about two-and-a-half million dollars clear of the cap, so taking on Eichel’s salary wouldn’t be a problem. Assuming they move some money back the other way. Especially with some money coming off the books too in the offseason. But a trade package for Eichel would have to include either an established star or an up-and-coming talent. Perhaps Mika Zibanejad from the Rangers, or Jake DeBrusk from the Bruins. From the Rangers, it is very likely Buffalo could ask for one of their much younger, highly touted prospects. As well as draft picks, high draft picks too. At this point, it could be foolish of either team to give up so much for one centerman. The team has to be sure they can win soon if they are justifying giving up a big package. As well, sacrificing depth can’t be understated.
Are the Sabres Ready to Let Eichel Go?
This is where things get murky. Eichel admittedly hasn’t been producing much recently, notching an average of about 0.833 points per game this season. Which is far less than his career average of 0.946. But one could reasonably assume, based on his history, that his current slump is just that – a slump. As such, it’s highly unlikely that the Sabres would be willing to relinquish their star player over one bad stretch.
There is, however, one other reason that the Sabres might trade Eichel away. If they’re considering a rebuild, they could deal Eichel in exchange for prospects or favourable draft picks. But it’s important to remember that Eichel is only 24 years old himself and, being captain of the team, serves as a key mentor for less-experienced players. Trading him away in a rebuilding mindset wouldn’t make much sense, either.
So to answer the question: Will a Jack Eichel trade happen? The answer, as of now, is no. While Eichel may or may not want to remain in Buffalo, other teams would have to offer valuable players and picks to wrestle him from the desperate Sabres’ hands. That’s just too high of a cost, especially given the high-stakes competition of this year’s condensed season. As long as Eichel isn’t officially off the trade table, though, it’s still fun to speculate about what could happen on the off-chance he does get moved.