Why Jack Eichel is a Trade Candidate for the Ottawa Senators

Jack Eichel

There has been a lot of speculation on the Buffalo Sabres trading Jack Eichel, and a team that could be interested in him is the Ottawa Senators. They are in need of a number one centre and Eichel is just that. A top 10 centre in the league and he is still 24 years old. He still has six more years (including this year) left on his contract.

Could Jack Eichel be a Potential Trade Candidate?

The 2nd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Eichel has proven to be a star in the league and has consistently performed well on a poorly performing Buffalo Sabres team. Last year, he finished the season with 78 points in 68 games, good enough to finish 8th in Hart voting. He is a player that drives plays well, having a 50.9 CF% last year and this year has a 54.99 CF% in this season. Clearly, his team is better with him on the ice. The amount they control shot attempts helps to show that alone.

He currently has two goals and 16 assists for 18 points in 21 games and his shooting % is at an all-time low of 3.3%. This low shooting % will not likely last long and his goals should start coming again as it is not a lack of chances that stopped him from scoring as he possesses an xGF% of 57.6 and HDCF% of 58.43. His whole line has been performing quite poorly. The line of Taylor Hall – Eichel – Sam Reinhart has a goals per 60 – 2.61 For context, Brady Tkachuk – Josh Norris – Connor Brown has a goals per 60 – 2.97.

Trade Package

If the Senators were to trade for Eichel, they would need to give up a similar package to the one that Ottawa received when they traded the one and only, Erik Karlsson. They received two roster players in Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo, two forward prospects in Norris and Rudolfs Balcers in addition to a 1st and 2nd round pick along with conditional picks.

A potential package could include a combination of Jake Sanderson, Drake Batherson, Shane Pinto and a 1st round pick. The Sabres may be looking for even more, wanting a player like Tim Stutzle/Brady Tkachuk to come their way. It may be hard for the Senators to give up key parts of the rebuild, but this return may be the kind the Sabres are looking for. As he does have a pretty high trade value right now. A star player in his prime and locked up for six more years? 

Of course, there will be fans that are upset that their favourite prospect or player got traded but it will be for a player with the calibre of Eichel so it will be interesting to see if Dorion and company could pull the trigger. Maybe they acquire another player. Or maybe they stick with who they have and trust the process, not giving up any prospects. It is rare for an opportunity to trade for a player of this calibre. However, this trade may be hard to pull off due to the package the Senators would have to give up. Jack Eichel is an elite player, one of the top centres in the league. But is it worth sacrificing some important roster players for one star player? 

Cap hit

According to CapFriendly, the Senators have a projected cap hit of around 9 million currently. Eichel has a cap hit of 10 million AAV. This means that they will need to send back a player in order to take on Eichel’s cap hit. A roster player like Tierney could be sent back towards the Sabres. Holding a cap hit of 3.5 million AAV, a centre spot on the Sabers may need to be filled and as Tierney is a versatile player, he could be beneficial for the Sabres.

If a trade including Sanderson, Batherson, Tierney were to happen for Eichel, the Senators would have a projected cap hit of around 3 million. Would Melnyk want to pay close to cap hit and even want to take on a hefty contract like Eichel’s? You have to ask the question. 

Senators Aren’t Competitive

Speaking of making a playoff run, would Jack Eichel want to come to a team that isn’t competitive this season? Although the team has a bright future, Eichel is 24 and would probably not want to wait for another two or three years until the team starts making playoff runs. Although the Senators have started to win games as of late, they aren’t in a win-now mode and ready to make a playoff run. So it wouldn’t make total sense for the Senators to go out and acquire a player with the talent of Eichel. 

There are huge questions in net with Matt Murray, who has a GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected) of -19.03 (from Evolving-Hockey), which is the worst in the league. However, the defence has been allowing a lot of chances against as the team has an xGA of 41 and allowed 117 high-danger chances against (league average is 75). So it isn’t all Murray’s fault to say. The offence on the other hand hasn’t been bad, performing a bit under league average as they have 71 high danger chances this season (league average is 75).

Although they have created chances, they aren’t able to capitalize on these chances, as they scored seven goals (league avg is 11) out of the 75 high danger. They shoot a lot as their total shot count is 917 (league avg is 758) but are only able to convert 8.2% of those into goals. The Senators did have a bad start to the season and the stats do incorporate the whole season so it’s tough to say whether the Senators improved as of late due to the limitations of statistical websites that are available.

Conclusion

Eichel could slot into the number one centre position instantly and will speed up the process of this rebuild. He would fit right in with the young Senators core and could potentially form a line with Tkachuk and Batherson (unless one or both of them are traded). Of course, it’ll speed up the rebuild but as mentioned earlier, Eichel would want to be on a team that is competitive. Look at the stats mentioned earlier and look at this team on paper.

There is Stutzle, Batherson, Tkachuk, Chabot to build around here. But Nikita Zaitsev on the first D-pairing and Matthew Peca on the fourth line? Murray hasn’t been performing as many would have liked and there are still some players that are getting accustomed to the league (such as Stutzle, Josh Norris, Batherson). Eichel would come in and want to be competitive as soon as this season and would that be likely? Most likely not. 

As shown in the tweet below, Eichel may not want to leave and the Sabres may not want to trade him.

Maybe Eichel could even be a player like Duchene. Highly skilled but the team can’t win? And would Eichel even want to play for a small-market team like Ottawa? There are a few interesting questions worth pondering upon when it comes to a Jack Eichel trade.

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