The Jack Eichel situation seems to have reached its breaking point in Buffalo, going from contentious to downright ugly.
He clearly wants to have his preferred surgery, he clearly wants moved somewhere else, and it only seems to be a matter of when he actually gets traded.
But for as ugly as the situation is the Sabres are still not going to just give him away. Nor can they. He is still Jack Eichel, he is still one of the best players in the league, and if they are going to move him they have to make sure they get back everything they can for him. General manager Kevyn Adams’ asking price reportedly focuses on four young assets that are the equivalent of a first-round pick. If we are being realistic he is probably not going to get that. They might get something close to that, but the return will definitely be lower than that price. Just because that is how these things work.
Still, any team that wants to trade him for will need two things: 1) a way to clear enough salary cap space to take his $10 million per year salary cap number, and 2) enough young assets to pay Buffalo’s asking price.
Let’s look at the possibilities.
New York Rangers
This has always been one of the obvious teams. They are ready to compete, are feeling pressure to compete, have enough salary cap space to swing for the fences, and are swimming in talented young assets that Buffalo would almost certainly love to acquire. They still have $13 million in salary cap space for this season and more than $34 million next season with 13 players signed under contract. They do have some significant raises coming in the short term (Adam Fox, Igor Shesterkin, Mika Zibanejad) but they should still have enough flexibility to make it work.
Los Angeles Kings
Salary cap space is a little more limited following the additions of Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault, but the salary cap has never stopped a team from acquiring a player it badly wants before and it will not stop them now. The Kings also have one of the deepest farm systems in hockey. It would also be ideal for Buffalo to ship Eichel to the Western Conference where they would only see him twice per season. If the Kings could get Eichel their center depth with him, Danault, and Anze Kopitar would be as good as any team in the NHL.