A new report coming out of L.A. states that the Kings may no longer be interested in Jack Eichel. Forever Blueshirts has learned today that they never were in on him in the first place. This reaffirms my report on March 21st that the Kings were not interested in adding another $10 million player to their roster.
Rangers and Kings interest in Jack Eichel cooled
John Hoven is known as an LA Kings Insider. In his latest article he notes that it appears whatever interest GM Rob Blake had may be gone.
In talking with several sources around the organization over the past few weeks, there just doesn’t appear to be much interest in Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel. You can point to any number of different reasons why — the neck injury and the big contract (five more years at a $10M AAV, including four years of a No Movement Clause) certainly come up often — yet, in the end, it’s the acquisition cost than most likely kills any deal for the 24-year-old center. The Kings aren’t looking to trade Quinton Byfield, period. That alone could sour the Sabres. On top of that, LA’s other top of the food of chain assets are being saved for what they feel is their eventual ‘big move,’ namely a defenseman.John Hoven
Back in May, a team source told me that the Rangers interest in Eichel had also cooled. As to why, three major factors were pointed out to me.
A) His $10 million dollar cap hit could be easily fit into next season. However, come 2022-23 with Mika Zibanejad up for a new deal it becomes difficult. Also Ryan Strome is a UFA, but it would safe to assume he’d be moved out to make room for Eichel. The real problem comes in the form of RFA’s Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov. All should be a higher priority in signing.
B) His neck injury is a serious concern. Obviously that impacts everyone looking to trade for him, but that health uncertainty has backed the Rangers off.
C) The Sabres are still asking for way too much. We know the Blueshirts had a “reasonable offer” last year that was considered but ultimately declined.
Astronomical ask for Jack Eichel
So far, no one has disputed Friedman’s report that the Rangers made an actual offer last year before the season started. That was a long time ago, and the Sabres balked. Buffalo did also attempt to put together a competitive team by signing Taylor Hall, but it didn’t work out. Eichel became more disgruntled and rumors began again.
Teams likely reached out during the year but Buffalo’s trade ask was reported to be astronomical. “They are not sure if they are going to trade him or not,” TVA’s Renaud Lavoie said in March. “If they trade him they want four pieces that are first round picks. Or players that are playing if not in the NHL or elsewhere like the NCAA – that were first round picks and are having success and not struggling.”
Since that information came to light and coupled with his neck injury, teams likely wrote off an Eichel trade. However, his name has been rampant in trade rumors again. This is all likely being generated out of Buffalo. They may be trying to create a trade market that doesn’t exist.
Sabres want another team to deal with Eichel’s neck issues
The Jack Eichel saga with the Buffalo Sabres continues to rage on. There is a lot of talk coming from GM Kevyn Adams but next to nothing from Eichel’s camp. The only indication of chatter from Jack or his agent are suggestions being made by some of the top insiders.
“It’s clear there is a lack of trust between Eichel and the Sabres right now,” Elliotte Friedman said on his 31 Thoughts podcast. “Again, this is me talking, nobody is telling me this, I wonder if this is a deal that happens sooner rather than later for that reason.”
According to Friedman’s reporting, both sides have reached out to their respective representation to determine their rights. “My personal opinion, whatever Eichel decides to do will be in conjunction with the next team that acquires him.”
The teams interested in Eichel reached out to ask if there was more info not yet public. He told them there wasn’t. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Sabres answer to this is to potentially is to punt the situation to another team,” Friedman added.
If the Sabres lower asking price, Rangers may do it
Where does that leave the Rangers if no one else is interested? The Sabres could turn to the Blue Jackets who are rumored to be in the market for a center. They could try and pit the two teams against each other for Eichel? That would require that Columbus were specifically interested in him, to date they are not.
Things will get worse for Buffalo if Eichel goes public with an “official” trade request. It will become an even bigger public relations nightmare for the organization.
Bottom line, Buffalo is going to need to lower their asking price or at least allow other teams to talk with Eichel and his agent. The acquiring team needs to know what’s going on with his neck issue before making any serious offer. Otherwise, this is going to be another long season for the Sabres.
The Rangers would love to add Eichel. They won’t do it if they feel his neck injury is too big of a risk. Even if it isn’t, they won’t give up anything close to four first rounders. There’s a lot more coming on this story, but for now it’s very possible that no one is on Jack Eichel.
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