Every fiber of my being wanted to just write “You can’t.” and have that be this entire piece. In essence, that’s what the present answer is when fans and media in other NHL markets ask the question: “What would it take to get Jack Eichel?”
In fairness though, I understand all of it. If I were in Boston, Montreal, Carolina, anywhere really, I’d be thinking about what it would take to get Eichel too.
Realistically, there is no way in hell Eichel is getting traded right now. At this point, all of the talk about his being frustrated with being with the Sabres is just speculation. Nothing concrete. The lack of things to talk about in the NHL due to COVID-19 is certainly a factor in the Eichel trade talk as well.
For the fans of other teams that want to have some fun thinking about an Eichel trade, fine, here’s what your trade should look like. You’ll quickly pick up on why Eichel won’t get traded, because most won’t want to give up what it actually should cost.
To me, that cost is a young No. 1 center and something of significance.
You don’t have it:
Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals
Calgary Flames: Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, first round pick
Unless a true No. 1 center is coming back in a deal, you can’t trade Eichel. Monahan is coming off a down year, but is a proven 30-plus goal scorer with three years left on his deal at 25-years-old. However, he’s not an elite talent like Eichel. For that, the Sabres get a top line winger in Matthew Tkachuk and a late first round pick.
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost
The Avalanche would never give up MacKinnon and he may even be a better player than Eichel, but if you’re the Sabres, you’re getting a player that is a year older and has three fewer years on his contract. For that, the Sabres are getting some added center depth in Jost.
Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov
Aho has become a No. 1 center in hockey and is just 22-years-old. He has four years remaining on his contract as opposed to Eichel’s six. To make the deal worth it for the Sabres, they should need something substantial. Enter Svechnikov, one of the brightest young goal scorers in the NHL. He netted 24 goals and 61 points last season at just 19-years-old.
Dallas Stars: Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen
Seguin is a point per-game player, but is five years older than Eichel. For the difference, the Sabres get one of the best young defensemen in the NHL. Heiskanen may become a defenseman that’ll be in the Norris Trophy running year-after-year with Rasmus Dahlin.
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid
Yes, obviously the Oilers would never do this.
Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov, Spencer Knight, first round pick
Barkov is, arguably, on the same level as Eichel when it comes to elite young centers in the NHL. However, Barkov is a year older and has just two more years on his contract. Losing that much control is valuable. Knight was the 13th overall pick in 2019 and is, arguably, the best goalie prospect in the world. Throw in a first rounder for the hell of it.
New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, two first round picks
Hughes had anything but a stellar rookie season. Despite entering the season as a Calder Trophy favorite, he never entered the conversation with just 21 points in 61 games. Hughes, though, does have elite level potential. Given his rookie year, it’s a huge question mark to whether he reaches that or not. Hischier, meanwhile, feels like Sam Reinhart, in that he was a top draft pick in a down draft year. He’ll likely never be a point per-game player, but has already proven to be a top-six forward. The Devils pick seventh in the 2020 draft, meaning the Sabres would pick back-to-back in this scenario.
New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko, two first round picks
Zibanejad has taken a massive step in the last two seasons. He followed up a 74-point campaign in 2018-19, with 75 points in 57 games this season. He is four years older than Eichel and has two years left at $5.3 million. Kakko, like Hughes, struggled in his rookie season with just 23 points, but entered the league with elite hype. He was the second overall pick just one year ago.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin
I see Eichel and Matthews as washes as players. Both are going to be superstars for a decade-plus. Matthews’ cap hit is $1.6 million higher than Eichel’s, and he has two fewer years on his deal. More expensive and less control for the same caliber of player. For that, Toronto is giving up a good young defenseman on the way up in Sandin.
Vancouver Canucks: Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser
Pettersson is a bright young star developing in Vancouver. He won the Calder Trophy last year with 66 points in 71 games. He matched that this season with 66 points in 68 games. Just under a point a game isn’t Eichel level yet, but there’s good reason to believe he’ll be considered in the same tier some day soon. For the bit of doubt that he won’t reach Eichel-level, the Sabres get a proven young goal scorer on the wing in Boeser.
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers
Scheifele is a No. 1 center in the NHL. He’s been over a point a game in four straight seasons. He is four years older than Eichel. Ehlers is a nice top-six winger that has often been mentioned in Rasmus Ristolainen trade rumors. If Winnipeg wanted Ristolainen as a throw in, I wouldn’t sneeze at it.
Likely none of the teams listed above would give up these packages to get Eichel. If you didn’t understand before why the idea of Eichel being traded was completely unrealistic, hopefully you do now.