Golden Knights’ big welcome for Jack Eichel; talks about trade, surgery, and getting back on ice

Jack Eichel arrives in Vegas
Jack Eichel arrives in Vegas (photo courtesy Vegas Golden Knights)

Jack Eichel rolled into Vegas on Sunday and was greeted by the Golden Knights welcoming committee. The fanfare included a literal “Golden Knight” with a new hat for Jack. Drummers sounded his entrance and Eichel’s grin went from ear to ear.

This is what he’s been waiting for.

“Hey Vegas fans. Just got into town. Very warm welcome,” he said. “Super excited to be here and thanks for all the support the last few days.”

Golden Knights land superstar

The Buffalo Sabres finally ended all the drama by trading star forward Jack Eichel and a 2023 third-round draft pick to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday for forwards Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, a top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick.

Eichel, 25, is in the fourth year of an eight-year, $80 million contract. Vegas inherits his $10 million cap hit in full as no salary was retained.

He has 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 games, all with the Sabres. Buffalo took him No. 2 overall in the 2015 draft.

“We were not in the market for another centreman, but this is not another centreman,” Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon said. “In Jack Eichel, we are getting one of the top players in the league, in the prime of his career… The price is high in terms of what we have sent to Buffalo, but at the same time for a player of this ilk, it should be high.”

Neck surgery

Jack Eichel
Jack Eichel meets the press (Vegas Golden Knights / YouTube)

Jack Eichel is scheduled to undergo an artificial disk replacement surgery Nov. 12 at a spine clinic in Denver, he said Friday.

The surgery was the centerpiece of the tension between Eichel and his former team, the Buffalo Sabres. The procedure has never been performed on an NHL player and the Sabres were pushing for a fusion surgery for Eichel’s herniated disk.

“I’m very comfortable with it,” Eichel said, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I have extreme confidence in my surgeon and the people I plan to do my recovery with.”

“You hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Eichel said. “In that case obviously I’m hoping that it’s a three-month recovery, and after three months if I’m ready to get back to doing what I love.”

Eichel happy to be in Vegas

“I think first it’s just excitement,” Eichel said after being traded. “There’s a lot of emotions involved unless you’ve gone through [being traded] before, which I haven’t. I’m just very relieved and so excited and thankful.”

On Monday, he met with the media to be officially introduced as the latest member of the Vegas Golden Knights. He was asked a myriad of questions related to his time with Buffalo and the relief of finally being traded, but he had a message for anyone still concerned about his injury.

“In the grand scheme of the whole process it’s going to be a short time,” Eichel explained. “I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to attack this recovery and get back on the ice.”

Eichel also hopes that his stance on getting his preferred surgery sheds more light on the CBA. “I don’t necessarily agree with the team having full say in medical decisions,” he said. “I think it should be a collaboration.”

The surgery is set for this week and he could be on the ice in three months.