It has been a rough week for Buffalo sports fans. First, JJ Watt decided to bypass the Bills and sign with the Arizona Cardinals. Then, Zach reported that there is trouble in paradise with the Sabres. The Sabres have been in perpetual rebuild mode since the last days of Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, and Maxim Afinogenov. Despite their success in the lottery and landing pieces like Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin, they still can never get above mediocrity. It is not like they have not tried either. They acquired pieces like Jeff Skinner, and most recently Taylor Hall. However, they are struggling as much as ever and are on track to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
With their continued mediocrity, their have been active trade discussions regarding Sabres star and captain, Jack Eichel. The 24 year old superstar and Boston University product has voiced his displeasure with the Sabres and the team’s struggles. That leads me to the point of this piece. The New York Rangers have been linked to Eichel for quite some time. To add fuel to the fire, Eichel and the Sabres are visiting the Rangers at the Garden tonight.
Naturally, the Sabres would immediately ask for a package headlined by either Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko. Either one would of course have to be accompanied by either Nils Lundkvist or Vitali Kravstov plus a couple first round picks. If it were not for Eichel’s vocal displeasure with the Sabres, I would expect a package like that. However, the team negotiating with the Sabres holds all of the leverage in this scenario. The Sabres will not get anywhere near that kind of package for their disgruntled star, especially during the season. It would not surprise me if both the Rangers and the Sabres had mutual interest in including Mika Zibanejad in the deal. However, and 1-2 center punch of Eichel and Mika would be deadly if the Rangers are able to keep both.
If the Sabres are smart, which we all know they are not, they will wait until this offseason to deal Eichel. He is under contract through 2025-2026 with a $10 million AAV. Eichel does not come cheap, but at least he is not a rental. He is also only 24 years old. He is an elite center is the NHL and is one of the games best players, and he has not turned 25 yet. The Sabres should hey a haul for Eichel, but the NHL and the Sabres are dumb so they won’t.
Eichel Visits Garden Tonight
The Rangers have been playing some decent hockey as of late. They have won 3 out of their last 5 and played two of their best games of the season against the Capitals and Bruins. Tonight, the Rangers host Eichel and the Sabres at Madison Square Garden. As it stands right now, the Rangers sit 6th in the East Division while the Sabres sit 8th. However, the two teams are separated by only two points. A win for the Rangers would be big as they gain some separation from the division basement, but a win for the Sabres (and loss for the Devils) would mean the Sabres climb out of last place. Neither team is in a position to make a run for the playoffs, but they both want to escape the shame that is last place.
I am so excited to see future Ranger great Jack Eichel play at the Garden tonight. He better like playing there because he is going to be doing a whole lot more of it pretty soon. The Rangers need to improve down the middle and Eichel fits the bill perfectly. They have the pieces to pull off a blockbuster, it is just a matter of how Jeff Gorton can negotiate his way down for Lafreniere or Kakko. It is a very exciting time to be a Rangers fan and the Eichel rumors are only feeding the hunger and excitement that comes with being a Rangers fan.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)
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