Having not made the playoffs since the 2011 season, it’s been a long stretch of disappointment for the Buffalo Sabres.
For a proud organization that spent numerous seasons competing for the Stanley Cup, the Sabres have become one of the laughing stocks of the NHL. Buffalo has not been competitive for several seasons and it appears as if their number one player is expected to leave the franchise.
Jack Eichel was originally drafted by the Sabres 2nd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and has witnessed nothing but losing seasons during his time in Buffalo. Eichel has been a hot commodity and star for a team that has struggled to produce victories.
In 375 career games played with Buffalo, Eichel has tallied 216 assists and 355 points. Joining the team as a 19-year-old, Eichel quickly rose to stardom in Buffalo and is one of the most sought-after players in the NHL.
It has been reported that Eichel was disgruntled with the team, but never officially asked for a trade. This was rumored earlier in the season but nothing came to fruition. However, it appears that the relationship between Eichel and the Sabres has taken a turn for the worse and trade talks are heating up.
According to The Athletic, the Rangers, Flyers, Kings, Wild, Ducks and Blue Jackets were mentioned as potential suitors for the 24-year-old, although it is unclear if there has been direct contact or negotiations with the Sabres.
Eichel has been reportedly fighting a herniated disk issue that led to even more disagreements on how it should be treated. The herniated disk ended his season on March 7.
His talents could easily slot him in with the best players of the game today, but there is another major hurdle that Buffalo needs to overcome to trade Eichel.
Eichel currently has 5-years left on his contract, with the annual average salary being $10 million per year. Eichel also has a no-move clause which kicks in after the 2021-22 season.
In 21 games played this season, Eichel picked up 18 points (16 assists) in 21 games.
The cost of trading for Eichel is also unknown. NHL insiders are pricing the star forward at Draft Picks, Prospects and ready-to-play NHL talent. Certainly a steep price, it will be interesting to see what offers are reported in the coming days.
The Sabres’ captain will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2025-2026 season, so whichever team Eichel is dealt to will have control over him for several years. Eichel’s cap-hit covers 12.3% of the Sabres’ total salary cap as well but has easily been their best player for multiple seasons.
With trade talks getting more intense, Eichel may be on the move in the coming days. But with a star-studded player like Eichel, this could take weeks (if not months) of negotiations.
Wherever Eichel ends up, it should dramatically impact that team’s Stanley Cup odds. But for now, Eichel is a disgruntled forward on the struggling Sabres hoping to be saved by another franchise.