New York Rangers and L.A. Kings ready to pounce if Sabres decide to trade Jack Eichel

jack eichel
Mar 24, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (15) plays the puck against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Eichel trade rumors rage on

One of the game’s top NHL Insiders Darren Dreger was on WGR550 in Buffalo and speculated that Jack Eichel won’t be playing in Buffalo next season. This isn’t new to anyone who has been following the rumors surrounding Eichel since the start of last season.

Jack Eichel being traded is not news. This started before Return to Play last season where he went on record to voice his frustration.

“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated.” Those were the words of Buffalo Sabres superstar, Jack Eichel per ESPN in May of 2020. “You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now,” he explained after realizing his Sabres would miss the playoffs again. “It’s been a tough five years with where things have gone.”

Well the playoff drought is now at six and it seems a parting of ways is inevitable. As to where he will land it remains to be seen, but Darren Dreger seems to think the L.A. Kings are a player to get him. Of course, that price is going to be steep as one report had the Sabres looking for in essence four first rounders in the form of players, prospects, or picks.

The New York Rangers already made an offer

Jack Eichel Rangers
Eichel Rangers rumors (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

The New York Rangers and Jack Eichel have been linked in the NHL Rumor Mill for quite awhile. That was only reinforced when one of hockey’s top insiders, Bob McKenzie confirmed they called about him this past offseason.

Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic noted in a January mailbag article that, “the Rangers made a hard push on Jack Eichel last summer, but ultimately, couldn’t get anything done.”

This isn’t surprising since it’s no secret that the Rangers want to add another star center to the roster. They have Mika Zibanejad but would love an upgrade over Ryan Strome. This prompted me to write about the possibility of a Jack Eichel trade to the Rangers all the way back in April of 2020.

In an episode of the Lead Off, Elliotte Friedman stated that the New York Rangers actually had an offer on the table. “The team with the best combination of the want and ability to do it is the Rangers, but is Buffalo going to be comfortable sending him there,” Friedman explained. “Last year they talked – there was an offer on the table I don’t think it included the #1 pick and I’m sure Buffalo asked. There was an offer on the table I understand was pretty reasonable.”

Eichel has been rumored now for awhile and the Rangers continue to be the most interested and strongly connected team to land him. The L.A. Kings have also been tied to being in on the Sabres 24 year-old captain. One caveat I’d like to add is that a source within the league told me that the Kings may not want to add another $10 million dollar player and certainly don’t want to part with Quinton Byfield.

New York Rangers won’t overpay

So what is a realistic return? Well Nick Kypreos said on his Real Kyper at Noon show that people need a “reality check”. Ultimately, Kypreos is spot on as to what the Sabres should expect as a return.

“Honest, I can see draft picks, I can a blue chip prospect or two,” he explained. “I don’t see a boatload for Jack Eichel after six years and character flaws.”

There’s been some talk that Mika Zibanejad would need to be included in a deal to make the money work. Kypreos stated that makes no sense for a team that wants to contend. He called it a “lateral move” and he’s correct.

After speaking with knowledgeable people I believe a fair offer from the Rangers would look something like Vitali Kravtsov, a roster player, a young prospect defenseman (Nils Lundkvist or Braden Schneider excluded), and a first round pick.

If the Sabres can get better than that, so be it. That’s because the Rangers feel that Eichel isn’t the only center that will be available this summer. Names expected to be shopped are Aleksander Barkov, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dylan Larkin, and possibly Sidney Crosby.

So the Rangers are not stuck on Eichel as some believe. He is the top target and Quinn would love to coach him again, but the market will have options. Likely more options for the Rangers than trade partners for the Sabres.

The Blueshirts also have no intention to trade Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller, and to a lesser extent Kaapo Kakko. That’s because John Davidson and Jeff Gorton are looking to win multiple Cups, not just one like in 1994.

If the Kings aren’t willing to part with Quinton Byfield, I don’t see how they can top the Rangers package. As many people have said this year, Jack Eichel is going to end up a Ranger, it’s just a matter of when.