The New York Rangers had been pursuing Jack Eichel aggressively for the better part of a year. Starting at some point last offseason, they actually made a reasonable offer. At the time, the Buffalo Sabres considered but opted not to make the deal.
Back in March, with the Rangers still very interested in the 24 year-old center, I was given indication of just what that package might have been. A roster player (presumably Ryan Strome), Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, and a first round pick. And who approved that package? Former team President, John Davidson now back with the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets having in-depth trade talks for Jack Eichel
When news of Jack Eichel’s neck injury surfaced, coupled with the Sabres still very high asking price, the Rangers interest cooled significantly. This was told to me in late May by a very reliable source who cited those two factors and cap implication starting in 2022.
Although no one has officially ruled the Rangers out of it, new President and GM Chris Drury has put the clamps down on any information leaks. That could be the reason why over the last week the teams often mentioned linked to Jack Eichel are the Ducks, Blue Jackets, and now Blackhawks.
Elliotte Friedman was on NHL Network yesterday evening and provided this update. “I believe the Sabres have entered some pretty in-depth trade discussions on Eichel,” he began. “I think they know what the market is, I think they know who is interested.”
As far as the situation with Eichel’s injury, teams have not been granted to speak with him direct and must go through the Sabres. “I understand the Sabres are asking for a ton,” Friedman continued. “I think they are deep in discussions with several teams. I’d be lying if I said I knew it was close. I’ll tell you this, I believe those conversations with teams like Anaheim and Columbus among them, are pretty in-depth.”
John Davidson has an advantage
Of all the teams that are possibly chasing Jack Eichel, only the Rangers and Blue Jackets now for sure what that reasonable offer was the Sabres almost accepted. John Davidson going after Eichel also isn’t some personal vendetta to get back at the Rangers for releasing him.
JD doesn’t operate that way, this is a business decision and the Blue Jackets have publicly stated they are in the market for a number one center dating back to the trade deadline. I even had the Columbus as a wild card to land Eichel back in May.
The problem for the Rangers, if they still are trying to trade for Eichel is that they will likely need to up the ante. Since JD knows exactly what they offered, he simply has to put forth a slightly better package to force Drury’s hand. Something as significant as replacing Kravtsov with Kaapo Kakko to get the deal done.
What could that better package be? Max Domi seems like a logical starting point. The Blue Jackets also have the 5th pick in the draft to use. Another piece they could include in a trade is recently signed prospect, Yegor Chinakhov.
So either JD gets Eichel, or at least he made a division rival pay a little more in order to get him. It’s just good business by a smart hockey mind.
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