The Buffalo Sabres introduced Don Granato today as their head coach heading into next season. During the media session; some intriguing comments came out of it.
“I openly talked about building a franchise with people that truly want to be here for the right reasons,” GM Kevyn Adams said about choosing Granato. While that was certainly meant as a compliment for his coach, Adams was clearly sending the signal to his Sabres players as well.
Currently, he has two forwards on his hands that have expressed a desire to be elsewhere in Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhardt. I believe that Adams wants to salvage the relationship with Reinhardt for at least one more year, since he’s only 25 and is an RFA.
When it comes to Eichel, there’s no turning back.
Jack Eichel and Sabres working towards a trade
Adams admitted that he is continually having trade talks with teams. His goal is to make the Sabres better with players who want to be in Buffalo. The stance on Eichel’s surgery remains the same. He and Buffalo’s medical experts are against him replacing the herniated disc in his neck.
It’s been widely reported that they are going to let his next team handle it, and for all the talk that a deal was imminent, it’s not going to happen until after the Seattle Expansion Draft. A trade seems likely to take place on July 22nd, or at the NHL Draft on July 23rd. Buffalo wants that coveted extra first round pick.
Remember, Buffalo won the Draft Lottery and will be selecting first overall.
However, the most pertinent bit of Eichel trade news didn’t come out of today’s press conference. Both John Vogl of The Athletic and John Warrow from the AP got Eichel’s agent to go on record.
“We are communicating with the team and are heading towards a resolution,” agent Peter Fish replied.
Ducks and Rangers are in the mix
There have been a ton of teams rumored in on Jack Eichel. Three of which have subsequently either dropped out of the running or were never in it at all. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, and L.A. Kings were supposedly going to make a run for the 24 year-old injured center but recent reports indicate otherwise. Throw in L.A. trading for Viktor Arvidsson today, just for good measure that they are out of it.
Other interested teams reported are the Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights, but that seems to be more speculation than actual reporting. Fun to talk about but with what cap space can they take on $10 million in salary.
Two teams are in it for sure, the Anaheim Ducks and the New York Rangers. Of the two, Anaheim seems best situated to land Eichel because they have the #3 pick in the draft. The stumbling block could be their unwillingness to part with either (or both) Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale.
As for the Rangers, they were the only known team to make an offer last offseason that the Sabres considered but ultimately turned down. From what I could gather back in March, the offer was along the lines of Ryan Strome, Vitali Kravtsov, Zac Jones, and their 2021 first round pick. They eventually backed off for many reasons back in May.
Neck issue aside, the Sabres ridiculous demands for three pieces that were first rounders and a first round pick was just not something the Rangers (or any team) were going to do. Money is still a concern, but the Rangers have plenty of cap space next season to figure out what to do in 2022 when Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad are up for new deals.
Recent reporting by Larry Brooks of the NY Post stated Chris Drury was engaged in talks with the Sabres. He wasn’t sure if it was due diligence or more. From what I can gather, the Rangers are back in the mix since Buffalo has eased up on their trade demands.
Where will Jack Eichel land?
So where does Eichel end up? The rumor mill has Buffalo wanting to send him out West for obvious reasons. If the Rangers have the best offer, I don’t think Adams would reject it simply because he’d rather not see him in the Eastern Conference. He will take the best deal available.
If Anaheim gives up Trevor Zegras, I think they get him.
What Adams still needs to do over the course of the next three weeks is to get some more teams involved. Is there another team out there that could come from left field to take Eichel? I think so, but for now it appears it’s going to be New York or Anaheim for Eichel.