Jack Eichel undergoes successful disc replacement; on the road to recover for Golden Knights

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

Jack Eichel underwent the spinal surgery that prompted his recent change of teams, and the Vegas Golden Knights termed the procedure a success Friday.

Eichel became the first NHL player ever to undergo an artificial disk replacement, and the star center experienced no complications, according to the Golden Knights in a statement.

Jack Eichel underwent disk replacement surgery today that his doctor described as successful and without complications. He is expected to make a full recovery. We will provide additional updates on the anticipated timing of his return to the ice when appropriate.

Jack Eichel went for a walk after surgery

The team did not immediately put a timeframe on his return, but Eichel said recently that he could be back within three months and that he believed he would be back at full strength in six months.

“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, 25, was captain of the Sabres, for whom he played six years, before clashing with Buffalo management over his health care. He was adamant that he needed an artificial disk replacement while the Sabres wanted him to have fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk.

Jack Eichel
Eichel wearing his new team colors (Zak Krill/Vegas Golden Knights)

After a lengthy holdout, Eichel was traded last week to Vegas, which agreed to let him undergo his preferred surgical option.

The operation was done Friday at a spine clinic in the Denver area.

Eichel spoke with ESPN’s John Buccigross and told him that the disc that was removed from his neck was a mess. “I honestly feel really good,” he said afterwards. “I just went for a walk. I’m more motivated than ever.”

Eichel looking forward to Golden Knights future

The Golden Knights received Eichel and a 2023 third-round draft pick in exchange for forwards Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, a top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 second-rounder.

Eichel is in the fourth year of an eight-year, $80 million deal. The Golden Knights reportedly absorbed his $10 million cap hit for the current season.

The second overall draft pick in 2015 out of Boston University, Eichel racked up 139 goals and 355 points overall in 375 games for the Sabres.

“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.”

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.”

–Field Level Media contributed to this report