Jack Eichel and the Sabres are talking again. “We have definitely been communicating with the team and we are heading towards a resolution,” Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, told both The Athletic and AP on Thursday.
So have the Buffalo Sabres and captain Jack Eichel finally have reached common ground regarding the next steps for treating Eichel’s herniated disk in his neck?
That seems to be the big question. What does “resolution” in this case really mean?
Eichel, 24, had indicated his preference for surgery — reportedly a disk replacement — but said the Sabres disagreed with that route and wanted him to rehab the injury instead.
Sabres still against surgery
Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams told reporters Thursday the club has not changed its perspective, adding that he did have a long talk recently with Eichel and his agent.
“Our stance hasn’t changed and where we’re at. It’s in the hands of the medical experts,” Adams said. “That’s what I said previously and it’s where we’re at right now. That’s the best I can give you.”
Back in May, the signs of a disagreement were clear.
“Now, it’s been speculated and discussed from Jack’s camp about potentially having a surgery that’s never been done on a National Hockey League player before,” Adams said at the time. “Our doctors aren’t comfortable with that.”
The agreed-upon rest-and-rehab period has now concluded but it does not appear that Eichel has changed his mind on the surgery.
“I would say I’ve been a bit upset about the way that things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” Eichel said two days after the Sabres season ended. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. So yeah, I think that there’s been a bit of a disconnect from the organization a bit and myself. It’s been tough at times.”NHL
Eichel, whose $80 million contract has five years remaining, last played March 7. At this point a trade seems inevitable.
Could the Rangers make a deal before expansion?
At one point it was reported that the Sabres wanted four to five pieces, all in the form of first round picks. In other words, either players who were selected in the first round and doing well, along with an actual first round pick. If the latest news is any indication, it seems the Sabres have lowered their demands.
Timing of course is another issue. Some teams may want to wait until after the expansion draft to make a deal. The Sabres can be patient and let July 21st pass before striking a trade by the draft on July 23rd. Remember, a first round pick is a given in any Eichel move.
The Rangers could however consummate a deal earlier if they chose, so long as one of the players going the other way is on their protected list.
Last offseason, the Rangers made an offer that the Sabres considered but declined. From what I could gather back in March, the offer was along the lines of Ryan Strome, Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, and their 2021 first round pick. The Sabres are supposedly looking for futures in a package and that could mean swapping out the older Strome for the younger Filip Chytil. Either way, both those players were going to be protected and Eichel would just take their spot.
–Field Level Media contributed to this article