Sabres looking to offload Jack Eichel’s neck issue to another team; will the Rangers bite?

By Anthony Scultore
Feb 18, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) skates during warmups prior to the Sabres’ game against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Jack Eichel saga with the Buffalo Sabres continues to rage on. Right now, 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.

Sabres may punt Jack Eichel’s injury to another team

“It’s clear there is a clear 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.

Some of the top teams looking at Eichel are doing their own due diligence and speaking to team doctors about his injury. If this is the route the Sabres are taking, they are likely going to have to take less in a trade package. Teams mentioned were the Rangers and Kings.

New York Rangers concerns regarding Jack Eichel trade

jack eichel neck issue
Jan 11, 2020; Buffalo, New York, USA; Fans greet Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) as he makes his way to the ice before a game against the Vancouver Canucks at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Forever Blueshirts learned in late May that despite all the mentions in the rumor mill connecting the Rangers to Jack Eichel, interest cooled significantly. As to why things changed, 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. Now the demands have gone up and despite neck issues have not come down. Buffalo is just not being realistic.

Kings targeting Seth Jones may help Rangers

Seth Jones will have no shortage of suitors this summer. I noted that the Flyers and Stars were two teams that will likely make offers for him at the draft. However, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic is putting the Kings at the top of the list.

Spent part of Sunday asking around the NHL about the anticipated level of interest in Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, who has reportedly informed the club that he has no intention of re-signing with Columbus and is likely to be traded this summer. Most clubs will let the dust settle for a day or so after big news breaks, but two clubs reached out to Kekalainen on Sunday. A flood of calls is expected beginning Monday or Tuesday after the holiday weekend. If you’re the betting sort — and isn’t everybody these days? — the early favorite appears to the Los Angeles Kings, given their stable of prospects and their pile of draft picks. Chicago and Montreal are expected to be major players, too.

The Athletic

The question for me is simple, if the Kings are going to use a majority of their assets (Alex Turcotte) on trying to land Seth Jones, does that take them out of the running for Jack Eichel? If so, does that leave the Rangers in a prime position to land an elite, but injured player for a great price?