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Jack Eichel MIka Zibanejad

What all this Jack Eichel stuff means for the Rangers

5/11/21 | 6:33PM: Pierre LeBrun said on TSN‘s Insider Trading that “hardly a secret that last offseason the Rangers did have discussions with the Sabres about Eichel” before noting that the Rangers also want to be “careful” about their cap situation.”
12:32PM: Elliotte Freidman writes that the Rangers were unwilling to trade a first-round pick last year for Eichel, it was #1, but that it could be an option for them this time. (Sportsnet)

5/10/21| 7:18PM: Earlier today, Sabres center Jack Eichel said that he has been “upset” with how things with the Sabres have gone since his injury and cited a “disconnect from the organization and myself and it’s been tough at times.” (NHL Network, Sportsnet)

  • Eichel missed most of this season with a herniated disc in his neck.

He added “I think the most important thing is trying to get healthy and figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year wherever that may be.” (NHL Network, Sportsnet)


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Eichel has long been connected with the Rangers, especially since Bob McKenzie, in September 2020, mentioned that the Rangers were among the interested teams in Eichel.

Elliotte Friedman has said on multiple 31 Thoughts the Podcast episodes that “Drury and the Rangers made a pitch for Eichel last offseason and Buffalo thought about it and they decided that ‘we weren’t ready.'”

On the NHL Network earlier today, Friedman said of the Rangers offer for Eichel that “from what I understand it was an offer that really made the Sabres think and ultimately they didn’t do it because they said they weren’t ready to do it at this time. Obviously, 12 months later it’s different and I think they are going to be ready and I think the Rangers are going to be in there, I think a lot of teams are going to be in there, and a lot of teams that maybe we don’t think of, but one of the things I do believe is that the Rangers are going to be among the teams in the best position, if not the best position to do it. I think the questions is going to be if the Sabres are going to twist themselves into a knot to not send him there.”

When asked about Eichel and the Rangers from a cap perspective, Friedman said “I always look at it this way, if Jack Eichel becomes available and you can get him, you sort out…he’s still in his prime and you know that any team that trades for him, he’s going to be coming out like gangbusters next year, like on fire to have a big year. Are you concerned about his health? That is what you have the doctors for, to tell you if there is anything to worry about. He seems to think that if he gets whatever he wants to get done, that he is going to be ready to play, you just make sure that is the case. If you can get him you get him and then solve the other problems. If you look at the Rangers, their biggest decisions are probably a year away, Zibanejad, Adam Fox so you have time. If you have time, use it and that is how I look at it.” (NHL Network, 5/10)

The Athletic‘s first Trade Board of this season featured Jack Eichel at #2 and with a quote from an executive who said he thought that Eichel would eventually end up with the Rangers, he just didn’t know when.

Larry Brooks wrote in March that the Rangers will be “at the front of the line of suitors” for Eichel. (NY Post)

Brooks writes today that he is “skeptical” about the Rangers pursuing Eichel. (NY Post)

Renaud Lavoie said in mid-March “what I’ve been told is this, if they trade him, what they really want is four pieces that are first-round picks or players that are playing, if not in the NHL or elsewhere in the NCAA that were first-round picks and having success, not struggling. They want young players that are probably some playing in the NHL right now that were first-round picks and if they are not playing in the NHL they need to be first-round picks playing like first-round picks at the level that they are. (Sportsnet 590)

John Buccigross of ESPN said in March that if he were the Sabres, he would “require” Kaapo Kakko, Braden Schneider, Filip Chytil, a goalie, and a first-round pick in exchange for Eichel.

Adam Rotter: Eichel isn’t getting traded today and while many around the league believed that he wasn’t going to be back in Buffalo next season anyway, his comments today make it seem like almost a certainty. So what does that mean for the Rangers? Not much. They were already interested in Eichel and, according to Friedman, made a real pitch for him this past offseason. None of that is surprising and it meshes well with the reports Bob McKenzie put out that really kicked things into a higher gear. We don’t know what the Rangers offered for Eichel in the offseason and/or

The Rangers pursuit of Eichel likely hasn’t changed, unless they have reason to believe that his neck injury will limit him from returning to be one of the very best centers in the world. The fact is, and this is where things get complicated, pursuing Eichel isn’t just about Eichel. A pursuit of Eichel impacts Mika Zibanejad’s future as well as whatever young players/prospects/assets need to be moved to get Eichel and then how it all fits with the cap.

It’s up to each person to decide whether the biggest part of a potential Eichel trade is what it means for Mika Zibanejad or the cost it would cost to make the trade.

While it’s not impossible, acquiring Eichel and then signing Zibanejad, while also having Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba and Chris Kreider (all have no-move clauses) under contract, would put the Rangers into the kind of cap crunch that teams like the Leafs, Lightning and others always seem to be in. That accounting doesn’t even factor in Adam Fox’s potential huge extension or Igor Shesterkin’s next contracts. So the Rangers will likely have to make a choice as to which center they want to move forward with long-term.

As for the cost to get Eichel, that is extremely hard to predict and there is a question of whether Buffalo would add a “Rangers tax” of sorts and make them pay more than other suitors like LA, Anaheim or any Western Conference team would pay. Does Mika Zibanejad get sent to Buffalo as part of this and then have Buffalo flip him somewhere else for additional assets or do the Rangers move him and use some of those assets as part of the Eichel trade? Which of the young players, other than Fox and probably Lafreniere, is untouchable? Filip Chytil would almost certainly be part of a deal, but what about Kaapo Kakko or Vitali Kravtsov? You’d think that Buffalo would want at least one of them and then which defenseman gets moved? Does K’Andre Miller get moved, doubtful, but what about Nils Lundkvist or Braden Schneider? It’s going to cost the Rangers something serious to get Eichel and they probably have a few different permutations that can get it done, but would they be willing to pay the cost? Or is it better to sign Zibanejad and then use the assets they’ve accumulated to make other moves? That is what Chris Drury needs to decide.