NHL Rumors: Sabres trade Jack Eichel to Vegas but two other teams were in the mix; a breakdown

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.

This also brings a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the organization and their unhappy former first-round pick over how to treat his neck injury.

Eichel will undergo artificial disk surgery this week, per reports, a procedure never done on an NHL player. The Sabres had been pushing for Eichel to have fusion surgery to repair his herniated disk.

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Anatomy of a Jack Eichel Blockbuster

Jack Eichel has been in the rumor mill dating back to 2019-2020 season. That’s when he first voiced his displeasure with the Sabres organization over the team’s playoff futilities.

“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated.” he said via ESPN in May of that season. “You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now,” he explained after realizing his Sabres would miss the playoffs again. “It’s been a tough five years with where things have gone.”

He played in just 21 games in 2020-21 and has not suited up this season. The Sabres stripped him of his captaincy ahead of the 2021-22 season when he failed his physical.

Things escalated from there and finally culminated in a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.

“It was never personal,” Sabres GM Kevyn Adams said. “You know, I said that from the beginning with Jack, we have to do what we felt was the best thing for our organization. What I can tell you is, we got to a point where this was the offer that we felt the strongest we had up to this date and we felt very good about it”


The longest player on the trade bait board in history?

jack Eichel Golden Knights
Mar 7, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) controls the puck against the New York Islanders during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Dating back to the start of last season, the New York Rangers were the team everyone thought Eichel was destined to land. Multiple reports indicated that then GM Jeff Gorton made an offer that was contemplated and rejected by GM Kevyn Adams. It is worthy to note that this was prior to Eichel’s injury in March.

The Rangers remained involved in talks all the way up until they extended Mika Zibanejad before the season started. Other teams noted to be in the mix were the L.A. Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and Minnesota Wild.

Last Friday, the heat turned up on Eichel trade talk with many reports a deal was on the works. Two teams that were mentioned often over the weekend were the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights. Regarding the rumor that the Flames offer contained Matthew Tkachuk, GM Adams said that was inaccurate. It’s very likely that Tkachuk’s name was thrown out there to possibly improve Vegas’s offer.

When it comes to the third team, according to Pierre LeBrun the Carolina Hurricanes kept tabs but never came close to a deal.

Breaking down the particulars of the trade

Eichel, 25, is in the fourth year of an eight-year, $80 million contract. Vegas inherits his $10 million cap hit this season, per reports.

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.”

Tuch, 25, underwent shoulder surgery in July and has yet to play this season. His recovery is expected to continue through the first of the year. He had 18 goals and 33 points in 55 games last season. The former first-round pick has 139 points (61 goals, 78 assists) in 255 games with Minnesota and Vegas.

Krebs, 20, has yet to tally a point in nine games this season. He’s played in just 13 games since being taken No. 17 overall in the 2019 draft.

Once he has the surgery, Eichel could be cleared to skate in six weeks but would be out at least three months before he’s cleared for contact.

“I keep thinking 4-5 months, 3-4 months, but I say that because I see you all grab your pens and write that down, but we really don’t know, and I’m not trying to suggest we do know,” McCrimmon added. “But that might be the best guess I can give you right now.”

As for Jack Eichel, he posted a photoshop picture of himself in a Golden Knights jersey with the text, “VEGAS BABY, VEGAS”.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report