Landing Spots for Jack Eichel Taking Shape

The postseason isn’t stopping others from starting the offseason

Eichel Talks Heating Up

What’s Happening: It’s customary for the Stanley Cup playoffs to reach their conclusion before the official offseason festivities begin. Not this year. With the condensed schedule and all but four teams perfecting their putting — including the still rosterless Seattle Kraken — the offseason is in full swing. 

That was cemented last week when Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic reported that Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel could be traded sooner rather than later. There are some big names available this year — including Columbus defensemen Seth Jones, who said he won’t sign an extension — but Eichel is certainly at the top of the list. 

He’s 24, plays a premium position, and has five years remaining on his deal, offering certainty to the club who acquires him. Where could he go? 

Lebrun suggested a wide range of potential suitors, but highlighted the following: Los Angeles, Minnesota, Anaheim, Columbus (and their three first round draft picks), Philadelphia, and the New York Rangers. 

When Could it Happen? Notwithstanding Eichel’s apparent request to be moved, he also has a no-movement clause that kicks in at the beginning of 2022. Assuming his new team would want him in camp come September, here are some dates to keep in mind:

July 21: The Expansion Draft: Could Seattle be in on Eichel? There’s no team with more cap space than an expansion team.

July 23: The Entry Draft: Presuming a first round pick is part of the package for Eichel, Buffalo GM Kevin Adams would want to use it here.

July 28: The Start of Free Agency: If Eichel is still a Sabre when free agency starts, Adams might be hitting the links as well. After the Taylor Hall trade, he needs a big win with Eichel.

Sabres Feeling Pressure: Which brings us to the bigger picture. GM Kevin Adams has had a tough go in his first stint as an NHL general manager. After continued poor performances on the ice, firing the coach, and receiving resounding criticism for the Taylor Hall deal, Adams has to not only nail the Eichel trade, but score an unanimous victory. 

It’s never an ideal scenario to trade your best player, much less so when there are injury concerns potentially resulting in diminishing returns. 

Which begs the question: if you’re Buffalo owner Terry Pegula, do you let Adams make the trade without help? Trading Eichel will set up the next half decade or more of your franchise. After the recent abject failure both on and off the ice, the Sabres mustfinally — get something right. 

Weigh In: What would be a fair return for Eichel?

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