NHL Rumors: Ducks and Blue Jackets closing in on Jack Eichel trade

October 16, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) scores a goal past Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

During the last offseason, the Rangers made a reasonable offer to the Sabres for Jack Eichel. I was given indication of just what that package might have been. A roster player (presumably Ryan Strome), Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, and a first round pick. And who approved that package? Former team President, John Davidson now back with the Blue Jackets.

Blue Jackets and Ducks in trade talks for Jack Eichel

When news of Jack Eichel’s neck injury surfaced, coupled with the Sabres still very high asking price, the Rangers interest cooled significantly. This was told to me in late May by a very reliable source. Including those two factors, cap implication starting in 2022 was mentioned. Another team that was also considered a top trade destination were the Kings. Recent reports have them out of it.

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Jan 11, 2020; Buffalo, New York, USA; Fans greet Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) as he makes his way to the ice before a game against the Vancouver Canucks at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Although no one has officially ruled the Rangers out, new President and GM Chris Drury has put the clamps down on any information leaks. That could be the reason why over the last week teams often mentioned linked to Jack Eichel are the Ducks, Blue Jackets, and now Blackhawks.

Elliotte Friedman was on NHL Network yesterday evening and provided this update. “I believe the Sabres have entered some pretty in-depth trade discussions on Eichel,” he began. “I think they know what the market is, I think they know who is interested.”

As far as the situation with Eichel’s injury, teams have not been granted to speak with him directly. “I understand the Sabres are asking for a ton,” Friedman continued. “I think they are deep in discussions with several teams. I’d be lying if I said I knew it was close. I’ll tell you this, I believe those conversations with teams like Anaheim and Columbus among them, are pretty in-depth.”

Ducks are a frontrunner to land Jack Eichel

There’s a lot of speculation going on right now concerning Jack Eichel. What we know to be certain is that trade talks have picked up. That information is coming from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, two of the most trusted sources in the game.

Friedman was recently on WGR550 and indicated that the Sabres preference would be to send him out West. He added that those in the East get the sense if they want him, they’ll need to pay more.

GM Bob Murray has been rumored to be looking to make a splash this offseason. Now that he has some cap space thanks to Ryan Getzlaf’s $8.25 million hit coming off the books, trading for Jack Eichel is a real possibility. Anaheim holds the third overall pick in the draft which is a given to be part of the package. They key here is who’s the roster player they move, and will they part with Trevor Zegras or Jamie Drysdale? If they are willing to, and assume the full risk of the neck injury – this is likely where Eichel will land.

Blue Jackets have an advantage

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John Davidson (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

Of all the teams that are possibly chasing Jack Eichel, only the Rangers and Blue Jackets now for sure what that reasonable offer was the Sabres almost accepted. John Davidson going after Eichel also isn’t some personal vendetta to get back at the Rangers for releasing him.

JD doesn’t operate that way, this is a business decision and the Blue Jackets have publicly stated they are in the market for a number one center dating back to the trade deadline. I even had the Columbus as a wild card to land Eichel back in May.

The problem for the Rangers, if they still are trying to trade for Eichel is that they will likely need to up the ante. Since JD knows exactly what they offered, he simply has to put forth a slightly better package to force Drury’s hand. Something as significant as replacing Kravtsov with Kaapo Kakko to get the deal done.

What could that better package be? Max Domi seems like a logical starting point. The Blue Jackets also have the 5th pick in the draft to use. Another piece they could include in a trade is recently signed prospect, Yegor Chinakhov.

So either JD gets Eichel, or at least he made a division rival pay a little more in order to get him. It’s just good business by a smart hockey mind. Ultimately, Anaheim still feels like where this all ends.