Sabres Trade Jack Eichel To The Golden Knights

Sabres Trade Jack Eichel To The Golden Knights

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the Buffalo Sabres have traded Jack Eichel and a third-round pick in 2023 to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023 pending a trade call with the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At long last, the Eichel trade watch is finally over. He wound up going where I suspected he would. The Golden Knights have long lacked a true first-line center and Eichel should address that need once he returns from disc replacement surgery sometime in February following the Olympic break.

Why are the Golden Knights making this move for a player they won’t have in the lineup until February? Their struggling start due to key players like Tuch, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and William Karlsson being sidelined likely factored into the decision.

Pacioretty and his $7 million annual cap hit is on long-term injury reserve and Karlsson ($5.9 million) could be joining him after suffering a foot injury. Stone’s status remains uncertain but if he’s out long-term he and his $9.5 million could also hit LTIR.

That would provide the Golden Knights with enough cap relief to take on Eichel’s $10 million annual average value. However, they’ll have to become cap-compliant when those players return to the lineup later this season. That, however, is a problem for another day and could involve a cost-cutting trade later in the season.

The return isn’t a king’s ransom but it isn’t much different from the Sabres’ original asking price in July of Krebs, a first-round pick, defenseman Nic Hague and winger Reilly Smith. Tuch is a better long-term acquisition for the Sabres than Smith, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The 25-year-old winger is signed through 2025-26 with an annual average value of $4.75 million. He’s currently sidelined until January recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Tuch is an effective power forward when healthy. Krebs is a promising 20-year-old center the Golden Knights were initially reluctant to part with. He had no points in nine games this season but still has considerable potential. With the Golden Knights’ first-rounder, the rebuilding Sabres have three picks in the first round of the 2022 draft.

Time will tell how this all shakes out. In the short term, the Golden Knights got the better player who could help them win that elusive Stanley Cup. If Eichel doesn’t fully regain his once-dominant form, however, this deal could shift in the Sabres favor over the long term depending on Tuch’s performance, Krebs’ development and who they select with that 2022 first-round pick.