The time has nearly come, Sabres fans. According to TSN insider Pierre LeBrun, trade talks are heating up big time on the Jack Eichel front. It is expected that the deal will be done before the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on July 23rd. LeBrun thinks the Kings, Wild, Ducks, Blue Jackets, and Rangers make the most sense for Eichel. But, he also said they weren’t the only ones. I think there’s one other team that makes perfect sense for Eichel. But, they aren’t talked about much even though they are rumored to have at least checked in on him. That team is the Seattle Kraken.
Jack Eichel Could Be the Kraken’s Fleury
One of the biggest reasons I see a fit for Eichel in Seattle is they need someone to build around. They need a Marc-Andre Fleury. But, it doesn’t look like any players of that caliber will be available via the expansion draft. So, they’re going to have to go out and trade for one. Since they’re starting from scratch, there is no specific need they have to fill and they have $81.5 million to play with right now. So, they can just go for the best player available. That is without a doubt Eichel this summer. So, why shouldn’t they go after him?
Seattle is What Eichel Wants
Another reason I think this deal is a perfect fit because Seattle will be the type of team and environment Eichel wants. He wants to be “the guy,” and understandably so given how good he is. But, he also wants actually good supporting players, and not whatever it was the Sabres threw out there. Ron Francis is an excellent GM, so I have no doubt they’ll be getting some of those via the expansion draft or even free agency. Most importantly of all, Eichel wants to win, and if Vegas is any indication, the Kraken could be in a position to do that very quickly, especially in the relatively weak Pacific Division. He would be happy in Seattle. As good as he was while miserable in Buffalo, the idea of a happy Eichel should be incredibly exciting for whoever gets him.
That’s Great. But Do They Have the Resources For Him?
I know what you’re thinking. Nice thought, but how does a team that has just one player signed and draft picks expect to acquire a player like Eichel? He is likely going to cost a combination of picks, prospects, and roster players after all. To answer that question, I’m going to have to ask you to use your imagination.
Obviously, the Kraken are in a very unique position. They don’t have any roster players right now and only have one prospect. But, they are gearing up to take a player from every team on July 21st, including the Sabres. Who’s to say they don’t work out a deal involving draft picks, and then part of that deal is they pick a player the Sabres really want to get rid of but can’t because he’s on a terrible contract? Does a certain player come to mind when I say that, Sabres fans? I bet one does.
Jeff Skinner Could Be the Main Part of This Deal
That guy could be Jeff Skinner. Do the Kraken really want to take on that albatross deal that carries a $9 million cap hit for six more seasons? No, of course not. But, let’s get even more creative for a second. Let’s say the Kraken agree to Jeff Skinner being part of the deal that brings Eichel to Seattle. He doesn’t have to be the player they acquire via the expansion draft. The Sabres could leave Eichel exposed, and have Skinner be the player that goes back in the official trade, thus leaving the door open to retain some salary. It would look rather hilarious since the Kraken would be officially trading multiple draft picks, and likely their one current prospect (and maybe another if they sign one) for Jeff Skinner. But it works.
If the Sabres didn’t agree to that, I do think it’s possible, although not as probable, that the Kraken would take on all of Skinner’s contract if it meant acquiring Eichel, especially if it meant getting him for less than they would’ve otherwise. There is no telling what could happen. Skinner could be revitalized in Seattle. It’s highly unlikely he’ll ever play up to his contract again, but he could at least play closer to it than he has been. If that’s the case, the Kraken would make out like bandits. If not? They’re stuck with a horrific contract for six years, which is far from ideal. But, it is manageable if they don’t take on many other bad deals since they’re starting from scratch.
In short, Jack Eichel and the Seattle Kraken are a perfect match. Eichel is the type of player the Kraken need, and the Kraken are going to be the kind of team that Eichel wants. On top of that, despite initial appearances, the Kraken could actually have the resources to make this work. This is especially true when you consider that the Sabres are about as likely to get exactly what they want for Eichel as pigs are to fly given how every GM knows how bad the situation is. Eichel does not want to be a Sabre, and bringing him back next year will just make the culture there even worse, especially since he is the captain. Plus, his no-move clause kicks in next offseason, so if they hold onto him until then they’re even more screwed.
All of this makes it so he has to be traded this off-season. If he isn’t, things will somehow get worse for the Sabres. So, he will be moved, and it’s now just a question of when and to where. I truly believe the Kraken are a perfect fit, and that they can get it done if they want to. Do I think it’s likely? Not exactly. If the Sabres really want roster players, the Kraken can’t offer that. The possibility of Eichel to the Kraken mostly hinges on how bad the Sabres want to rid themselves of a bad contract, and most likely Jeff Skinner’s. But that’s certainly possible, so it’s worth talking about.
Keep an Eye on the Kraken
Francis has the skills and the guts to do something like this, and teams always seem to come out of nowhere when stars get traded. So, it’s more likely than many might think. It all depends on what the Sabres want, and perhaps most importantly if the Kraken are willing to part with the second overall pick. While Francis currently plans on using it, he never ruled out moving it, likely because he was checking in on Jack Eichel. Does that mean it’s going to happen or that it’s even likely? Again, maybe not. But possible is all we need to make it worth considering. I have no inside knowledge, but if I were you, I’d keep your eye on Seattle in the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. If I’m picking any team to come out of left field and acquire him, it’s them.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images.
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