What’s the Future For Jack Eichel?

Buffalo Sabres centerman Jack Eichel has come under the microscope this fall, and things don't appear to be close to being resolved as the new NHL season gets underway. Eichel has requested a trade from Buffalo, and there are many teams around the league who would love his services.
However, he is currently awaiting surgery and cannot agree on what type to have, with the player and his current club Buffalo unable to agree what should be done. The Sabres hold his playing rights and can have a big say in what he does, even though he is unlikely to play for them ever again.

The Sabres are expected to be towards the bottom of the NHL, despite a good start, and that does not appeal to Eichel, who wants to play on a successful team. Despite a start that has gone against their expectations, the latest NHL betting odds make Buffalo +20,000 to win the Stanley Cup this year, just one team, the Arizona Coyotes, are priced higher. That shows what bookmakers think to the expectations in Buffalo, and by wanting a move out of the city, Eichel clearly thinks the same.

But what does the future hold for the 24-year-old centerman?

Realistic Trade Options for Eichel

Many teams have been mentioned as potential trade partners, though few of them can actually afford Eichel. The Sabres want his entire $10 million a year contract off their books, while they also seem unwilling to take on too much salary, so this could lead to a third team being involved in the deal.

Anaheim, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Seattle, and Vegas have reportedly all shown some kind of interest in taking Eichel on recently. Of those, just Anaheim and Columbus could get a deal done without shedding salary, though these are probably the two clubs where Eichel would least like to end up.

We've seen some blockbuster offseason moves in recent years, and this is a time when teams have more flexibility, so it could simply be that we have to wait until next summer, and more teams will be in a position to do this alone.

Can Eichel Land on a Contender?

Of the teams mentioned above, Boston, Carolina, Colorado and Vegas would be considered as genuine Stanley Cup contenders this season, the latter two especially. Should Eichel land on any of these four rosters, he would dramatically improve their chances of winning the cup, even if he doesn't play too much before the playoffs because of his injury.

It is certainly possible that he ends up with a contender, but perhaps not probable just yet. What is more likely is that Eichel goes to a lower ranked team, and of course immediately makes them better.

While this wouldn't put him in contention to win a Stanley Cup from the off, what it would do is take him away from the Buffalo situation, and allow him to enjoy his hockey, something we've not seen in a while.

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