NHL Rumor Mill – October 30, 2021
The Sabres could finally be close to trading Jack Eichel. Find out the potential trade partners in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports trade discussions between the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights regarding Jack Eichel have been heating up over the last couple of days. Appearing on the Jeff Marek show on Friday, Friedman said he believes the Golden Knights have done their due diligence regarding Eichel’s medical status and would allow him to undergo the disc replacement procedure he seeks.
THE ATHLETIC’s Jesse Granger took to Twitter Thursday speculating Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore would be an attractive piece for the Sabres in a hypothetical Eichel trade. He suggested that could be why the Golden Knights re-signed blueliner Zach Whitecloud earlier this week to a six-year contract extension.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ed Graney took note of recent speculation linking the Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks to Eichel. He wondered how the Knights can make it work financially or whether a third team might need to get involved.
Eichel carries a $10 million annual salary-cap hit through 2025-26, meaning Vegas will have to move some heavy salary to take him on. Once he comes off long-term injury reserve later in the season following his surgery, Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch will also have come off LTIR by then.
Graney added the Sabres are reportedly asking for something along the lines of multiple draft picks and a top prospect and a defenseman and a forward. Nevertheless, he feels Eichel could be worth it to address Vegas’ need for a first-line center.
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens doesn’t see the Anaheim Ducks parting with promising center Trevor Zegras or defenseman Jamie Drysdale for Eichel. He points out they have the cap space to take on Eichel’s contract. He doesn’t dismiss the possibility of someone like Mason McTavish, Maxime Comtois or Troy Terry being part of the return for the Sabres but isn’t sure the Ducks would part with their 2022 first-round pick.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports the Golden Knights could have competition for Eichel. “Don’t sleep on Calgary or Colorado,” said one source.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will be very interesting to see how the Golden Knights fit Eichel’s annual average value within their cap payroll for this season and the long term. Cap Friendly shows them sitting above the $81.5 million by over $5.8 million with Pacioretty and Tuch on LTIR. Eichel would obviously go on LTIR during his surgery and recovery but they still have to sort out the dollars when he’s ready to return to action.
Perhaps that involves moving out someone like Theodore ($5.2 million AAV), though that move could weaken their blueline depth. Do they try to move Reilly Smith and his $5 million for this season? His UFA status next summer won’t be enticing for the rebuilding Sabres. Convince Jonathan Marchessault to accept a trade to Buffalo if they’re on his no-trade list? Swing a deal with another team as a third-party broker willing to absorb a big chunk of Eichel’s cap hit?
The Ducks seem like the better destination. They have the cap space, the depth in draft picks and prospects, and their status as a rebuilding club means Eichel’s absence from the lineup during his recovery won’t adversely affect them this season. However, they might not be as keen to chase the high-salaried Eichel as the Golden Knights.
As for the Flames and Avalanche, I wouldn’t rule anything out but they seem to have a weaker hand than the Golden Knights and Ducks. I would be more surprised if Eichel landed with one of them.
Whatever the outcome, here’s hoping there’s a resolution coming soon. Eichel needs surgery to resume his playing career. It should be with a team willing to let him have the procedure he deems best.