It’s that time of the year again where trade news, rumours, and predictions are abuzz. The offseason is almost here and in just a few short weeks, the NHL will be at the Seattle expansion draft, the NHL Draft, and then the start of free agency. One of the most notable names that could be moved this year is Buffalo Sabres star centre, Jack Eichel. Eichel has been dissatisfied with his team, and after a failed campaign last season, he’s on the hunt for a fresh start. Many have linked the Detroit Red Wings to the prolific player.
While the idea of netting a star centre sounds appealing, the cost of trading for Eichel is not worth the benefit.
Why the Red Wings Shouldn’t Trade for Jack Eichel
Eichel is an astonishing player. Taken 2nd overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel has scored 355 points in 375 games with the Buffalo Sabres. He’s considered a top-ten player by many and would make any team immediately better upon acquisition. There’s no doubt that he would slot in as the 1C for the Red Wings. It’s entirely possible that Eichel would have higher point totals on a better roster with a stronger front office. With the Red Wings approaching the latter half of their rebuild and Eichel approaching his prime, it seems like a match made in heaven. Why wouldn’t they be a perfect fit?
Reason #1: The Cost
If Jack Eichel is considered a top-ten player, he’ll require assets to match that. With that in mind, the minimum the Sabres have considered is a high draft pick, a high-level prospect, and a roster player. For a team like the Red Wings, that might be a steep price to pay. It’s entirely possible that the Sabres may ask for a Lucas Raymond or a Moritz Seider in return. Is giving up Seider, a high pick, and a roster player worth Eichel? Seider has the potential to completely reignite the blue line. Raymond may be a top-line winger. There’s no telling their potential as of right now.
Additionally, the trade requires a roster player. Who would the Sabres want in return? It’s likely they’d ask for Filip Hronek, Filip Zadina, or even Dylan Larkin. There will likely be a berth of suitors attempting to court the Sabres out of Eichel. If Buffalo’s front office is worth their salt, they’ll take the best offer possible. Realistically, it’s hard to imagine the Red Wings can match anything the Los Angeles Kings or even the Carolina Hurricanes can throw at them.
Reason #2: Jack Eichel Doesn’t Fit The Timeline
The rebuild is still on the line for the Red Wings. There’s a need from top-to-bottom. From forwards to defence to goaltending, the need for high-end talent is more urgent than ever. Does trading for Eichel fit in the rebuild timeline? The New York native is 24 right now and is in the midst of his prime. By the time the Red Wings will be ready for contention, Eichel could be as old as 28, nearing the end of the five years left on his current contract. If he’s frustrated with the Sabres, the Red Wings might not be his best bet.
Reason #3: Another Option
If the Red Wings want to make a deal with the Sabres, another name may pique their interest: Sam Reinhart. While he’s a year older than Eichel, he’ll come at a much cheaper price while remaining a solid option at the centre position. Reinhart scored at his best pace in his career last season with 40 points in 54 games. On a roster as comically bad as the 2020-21 Sabres, that’s a significant boon. Where Eichel may go for a treasure trove, general manager Steve Yzerman may be able to coax Reinhart out of Buffalo at a much cheaper price. In an ideal scenario, he’d trade a mid-to-high-end prospect or pick for Reinhart.
Elliotte Friedman on WGR 550 mentioned that the Sabres value the 2021 draft above the other drafts. With two first-round picks at their disposal, Yzerman may be able to trade the one they acquired from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Reinhart. If he’s smart (and we know he is), he might just do it for a high second and third-round pick this season. He’s done crazier trades before and there’s certainly an opportunity for the Red Wings to net a great player from Buffalo for cheap.
If they can get Eichel for cheap, they should. If the cost is too high, Reinhart is the answer.
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