It seems all but certain that frustrated star center and team captain Jack Eichel has played his final game for the Sabres.
After voicing his frustration with the Sabres’ losing ways at his year-end press conference last year, this year’s year-end presser from the Massachusetts native came with perhaps the most biting criticism you’ll hear from an NHL player still under contract in this day and age. Eichel was upfront about the lack of trust with the Buffalo front office over the handling of his neck injury, said that he had to look out for himself above all else, and even noted “wherever that may be” when talking about his 2021-22 season. Yeah, it’s easy to see where this relationship is going.
And if Eichel gets his wish for a fresh start, the oddsmakers are giving the Boston Bruins a strong shot at the former Boston University Terrier star.
In fact, according to BetOnline.Ag, the Bruins actually have the fourth-best odds to acquire Eichel among all NHL teams, at +500. Only the Rangers (+250), Kings (+300), and Coyotes (+400) have better odds at rescuing the 24-year-old from Buffalo.
The Rangers being at the top of this list shouldn’t surprise anybody. In addition to being the long-rumored destination for Eichel, the Rangers possess the assets to pull off a deal from an asking price standpoint. But the Rangers are also now in the midst of an organizational revamping, with Jeff Gorton and John Davidson fired and replaced by Chris Drury, and with head coach David Quinn, who coached Eichel at Boston University, fired earlier this week.
The Kings are another team with the assets and prospects to pull off an Eichel trade, and they could conceivably fit in his $10 million cap hit into the mix, with $19 million in available cap space in the offseason and without any major re-signings to get done.
Arizona is definitely a weird one, you’d think, but if second-year general manager Bill Armstrong looking to make a splash, there’s no doubt that Eichel would step in and immediately become a face of the franchise unlike any other in the Coyotes’ team history. The ‘Yotes also have some enticing pieces and the cap space.
As for the Bruins, there’s no doubt that Don Sweeney and Co. have the money (over $31 million, to be exact) to make a serious move this offseason. A lot of that could be tied up retaining their current talent — unrestricted free agents Taylor Hall, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask, and restricted free agent Brandon Carlo headline this year’s list, while Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy are the team’s top priorities in 2022 — but the belief is that the B’s would make a call to Buffalo at the very least.
Assets may be an issue for the Bruins, however, as they’re obviously not going to move a core piece (McAvoy, David Pastrnak) for Eichel, and don’t have a ton to offer compared to some of the other potential suitors swinging for an Eichel home run.
Eichel, who scored a career-high 36 goals in 2019-20 and 82 points in 2018-19, is signed to that aforementioned $10 million per season through 2025-26, and does not have any sort of trade protection until 2022-23.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.