It’s clear that Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres are heading for a messy divorce. Things have really gotten nasty over the last couple of days with Eichel’s camp releasing a statement. Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman also interviewed a member of Eichel’s medical team about the desired neck procedure.
Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and Eichel are in the middle of an intense battle with each other. It’s going to end with a trade out of the Queen City, but the drama is just beginning.
Context About the Jack Eichel Situation
Eichel has been plagued by neck issues that caused him to play in only 21 games last season. He’s been wanting artificial disc replacement surgery for a herniated disc. However, the Sabres medical team has advised against the captain getting the procedure.
Two of Eichel’s management team have wanted the surgery to be done and have made requests to Buffalo since June. However, the team has vetoed the request every time. Agents Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli said that the surgery, if it is taken in the coming days, would allow Eichel to be ready for the October 12th season-opener.
Things have stalled so much that Eichel’s agents have said the process isn’t working and were under the impression the Sabres’ specialist agreed. However, team management hasn’t give approval.
The feud between the two sides has been simmering since May when Eichel said there was a “disconnect” between him and the Sabres. This disconnect has caused the former Boston University standout to question his future with the team.
Freidman interviewed Dr. Chad Prusmack about Eichel’s desire to get the disc surgery. Dr. Prusmack said Eichel would be out up to six months if he did get the surgery. However, his quality of life post-hockey would be better. He did say there may be need for more surgery, but it would be down the road and at a 4-5 percent chance. Dr. Prusmack contrasted his suggested procedure with neck fusion, saying that the fusion would limit Eichel’s range of motion and could effect him on the ice. He also indicated that it would have a 25 percent chance of needing further fusions.
Trade Talks Stalled
The uncertainty surrounding the former second overall pick’s health has clouded the trade process. It’s no secret that Eichel wants a fresh start and there are plenty of suitors. Eichel is going to get a hefty return, but the injury is slowing things up.
Teams will hesitate before putting their best package in order to get Eichel if there are continued health issues. Buffalo has a history of losing out in deals like the Ryan O’Reilly deal with the St. Louis Blues. Adams has done well with the Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen trades, but needs to get a massive return for a game-changer like Eichel.
Adams is purging the roster of anyone that doesn’t want to play for the Sabres. Eichel is at the top of list judging by his comments.
What It Means
The Sabres have been mum on pretty much everything about the Eichel situation. It’s a bad look when the team isn’t being transparent. Dr. Prusmack appreciates why the Sabres are hesistant to give Eichel permission. He said it is a business and Buffalo is trying to protect its investment into its best asset.
However, both parties need to figure out the best course of action. Trading Eichel would likely mean that Sabres fans would have to endure at least another few years of a rebuild. Buffalo is already tied for the longest playoff drought in NHL history and it doesn’t seem like there’s any signs of slowing down.
A healthy Eichel gives Buffalo a chance to be a better team, but it also gives them a chance to fetch better future assets. The Sabres’ captain is itching to make the playoffs for the first time in his career. It’s time for both sides to hammer out an agreement when it comes to surgery and an eventual future in or out of Western New York.