As if Torey Krug's future in Boston and an ongoing buyout window weren't taking up enough headlines in what should be an active offseason across the NHL, TSN's Bob McKenzie dropped this whammy of a tweet on our timelines Monday afternoon:
Any trade whispers involving a 23-year-old franchise cornerstone like Eichel was going to turn plenty of heads, to the surprise of no one. But McKenzie's follow-up tweets cooled down some of the firestorm he sparked just minutes earlier.
“I hear that (trade talk) a lot,” Eichel’s agent Peter Fish said. “Jack wants to win, he’s frustrated (not winning) but, no, he doesn’t want out. Jack is preparing to head to Buffalo at some point here and prepare for the season, whenever that may be. That’s all he controls.”
The messaging out of BUF is Sabres aren’t shopping Eichel, there’s no real desire to trade him, but since Kevyn Adams became new GM several clubs have called about Eichel’s availability. NYR believed to be one of the teams that called. So calls were made; calls were taken.
None of those talks with other clubs resulted in Eichel trade traction. But it’s also believed there has been dialogue between Eichel and BUF to ensure they both want the same thing (to get better obviously) and share the same timetable (sooner rather than later).
So, the face-value review appears as follows: Eichel doesn’t want out of BUF; BUF doesn’t want to trade Eichel; move along, nothing to see here. Fair enough. But some rumours are worth checking out/mentioning. Which I’ve now done. Now back to draft prep.
So, what do we have here? All smoke? Maybe an ember or two of hope to keep us entertained over an offseason with no set ending date?
While it would seem as though Eichel is currently holding steady to see what new GM Kevyn Adams can cook up over in Buffalo, it shouldn't come as a surprise at all that multiple teams (especially a team like the Rangers with a massive trade chip in the No. 1 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft) are kicking the tires to explore what kind of return the Sabres are looking for *if* their star player was ready to tap out and seek a trade.
You certainly can't blame Eichel, given that the North Chelmsford native has been mired in mediocrity up in Buffalo ever since the Sabres took him right after Connor McDavid in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Despite tallying 337 total points over 354 games in a Sabres sweater, Eichel has often been a one-man show since arriving up in the NHL ranks, with Buffalo fumbling time and time again at surrounding their top center with talent — whether that be through poor drafting and development, cap-related decisions that would make you pull your hair out (Jeff Skinner is making $9 million a year through 2027) and horrid asset management (Ryan O'Reilly says hello from St. Louis).
Something's gotta give pretty soon, as Eichel's dominant play has been overshadowed by an annual cycle of futility that has seen the Sabres shuffle through six head coaches, three GMs and zero playoff berths since Terry Pegula took over as owner nine seasons ago.
Given Eichel's production, his age, the security that comes with an major contract already in place (signed through 2026) and the state of the Sabres, it'd be downright absurd for teams NOT to check in and gauge whether or not Eichel could be available for the right price (or perhaps more appropriately, massive haul).
As such, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Eichel's hometown team in the Bruins have also reportedly checked in on the star center, according to Ty Anderson of 98.5 The Sports Hub.
It's easy to spend the rest of the evening imagining such a scenario in which Boston brings home (yet another) hometown product — especially one of Eichel's caliber. For as much as the writing appears to be on the wall when it comes to just how long this team's Cup-contention window can remain open with the likes of Patrice Bergeron leading the way, the arrival of Eichel would extend the B's reign as a Eastern Conference powerhouse for years on end, especially if paired with more tangible talent than what he's usually been saddled with up in Buffalo.
And yet, much like how McKenzie injected a sobering dose of reality into the final pieces of his tweet thread, I'm going to have to follow suit when it comes to dousing any spark of hope Bruins fans might have of spotting Eichel in a Spoked-B sweater in 2021.