On Friday, MSG’s Steve Valiquette tweeted that his “spidey senses are tingling. Eichel.”
Larry Brooks followed that up with a tweet saying that Chris Drury has been telling agents that the Rangers “have never been seriously interested in Eichel.”
- For everything on the Rangers and Eichel, up to now, CLICK HERE.
Last week, Eichel’s agents issued a statement saying that “the process is not working” and that they “fully anticipated a trade by the start of the NHL free agency period.”
Sabres GM Kevyn Adams has said that he feels no “pressure” to trade Eichel.
Mike Harrington said of the Sabres, “I think part of it is they don’t think they’ve gotten real legitimate offers, they feel they’ve gotten undersold. They are trying to trade the 36-goal Jack Eichel that finished 8th in the Hart Trophy balloting and everyone else is trying to acquire the two-goal Jack Eichel who didn’t play after March and needs neck surgery.”
For more on the procedure that Eichel is looking to get, listen to 31 Thoughts.
Adam Rotter: Some around the league are expecting things with Eichel to stay quiet until after labor day when training camp will be just around the corner. Others think that Eichel could be moved at any moment, which is certainly Eichel’s preference. Buffalo has ultimate say on Eichel’s destination until his no-move clause kicks in after this coming season, so it’s not impossible that he suits up for the Sabres again, but no one really believes it will happen. Eichel needs surgery and it’s hard to believe that the Sabres will bring him to camp and let him fail his physical.
The Sabres are afraid that trading Eichel will be like when they traded Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis a few years ago. The Sabres got a first, second, two players, and a young player/prospect, none of which has really panned out. The Blues got the Stanley Cup, O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe and now he’s their Captain. The Sabres seem to be holding firm on their high price so that they can at least sell to their fans that they got fair or equal value for someone who could easily follow O’Reilly’s path of winning a Conn Smythe someday. The Sabres are trying to trade the player Jack Eichel was and could be and teams, as noted above, are looking at acquiring the Jack Eichel of right now, the one with a $10 million dollar cap hit and in need of neck surgery.
So what does this report that the Rangers “have never been seriously interested in Eichel” mean? I think it comes down to semantics. Are they and have they been interested in Eichel? Yes. Do I think they have made offers for Eichel? Yes. Do I think they have ever come remotely close to meeting what the Sabres want? No. Do I think Buffalo wants to send him to the Rangers? Absolutely not and it’s why there has always been a belief that the Sabres want Eichel as far West as they can send him. The Sabres also know that they can’t let Eichel walk into their building 3-4 times a year, with the Rangers or Bruins or Habs, without getting a cornerstone piece in return and no one seems willing to do that for a player with a neck issue and double-digit cap hit. If there was salary retained it might be another story, especially as that would probably allow the Rangers to re-sign Mika Zibanejad, but that is unlikely as Buffalo wants to be rid of Eichel entirely.
So where will Eichel end up? Anaheim or Vegas seems most likely, but Anaheim doesn’t appear willing to move their top young players and Vegas has the greatest chance of the Ryan O’Reilly situation happening in the short term. Vegas would have to make at least 2-3 other moves to clear cap space, and they may not have the assets Buffalo wants, but they are ready to win and love going for big players like they did with Alex Pietrangelo last offseason. Maybe there is another team, some speculate on Calgary, but at some point, Buffalo is going to have to trade their captain or risk whatever issues may lie with trying to bring him back into the fold….before eventually trading him as his no-move clause is about to kick in.