While Jack Eichel’s potential trade availability has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, there has actually been very little concrete information to come out about his market. The assumption is that every team will at least kick the tires on the superstar forward, but also that the Buffalo Sabres will have a hefty asking price that some may not want to pay and many others simply won’t be able to. The remaining group of possible landing spots could be small. To this point though, there has been little word on which teams fall into which categories – until now.
One team very much in the mix for Eichel is the Minnesota Wild. The Athletic’s Michael Russo has confirmed that Wild GM Bill Guerin has opened trade talks with the Sabres’ Kevyn Adams. Minnesota had a strong, resurgent season but still lacks star power at the center position, so it is no surprise that Guerin is interested. The Wild already have their plate full with extensions for Kirill Kaprizov, Kevin Fiala, and Joel Eriksson Ek, but it stands to reason that a potential Eichel trade would likely see one of the latter two heading to Buffalo. Russo points out that the salary cap would necessitate another roster player likely moving as well, while a top prospect such as Marco Rossi or Matthew Boldy would certainly be part of the package too. It’s a heavy price to pay – and that might not even be the full ask – but Buffalo knows that someone will pay up for Eichel. Russo warns that the Wild are an up-and-coming team and need to be completely sure of Eichel’s health status before making the expensive, long-term commitment and franchise-altering decision to acquire him.
Not everyone is willing to take that risk and the Columbus Blue Jackets are one of them. The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline writes that Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been busy working the phones and analyzing the trade market and Eichel has of course earned “due diligence.” However, he indicated that this was the extent of his trade talks with Adams. Portzline reports that a key piece of the Sabres’ asking price is a center with first-line potential and the Blue Jackets do not have anyone who fits that description. To make up for that deficit, Columbus’ would likely have to pay an exorbitant price to acquire Eichel. The likely package would include at least the No. 5 overall pick, if not multiple first-rounders, multiple young roster players, probably including goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, and a top prospect or two. That cost doesn’t make much sense for a team that, at best, is re-tooling but could be considered rebuilding. Portzline suggests that another Sabre, Sam Reinhart, has also been linked to the Blue Jackets and would be a better fit in many ways.
Other suitors are expected to include the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and New York Rangers, but so far those organization have not let any details of their pursuit slip out. There is of course also the chance that Buffalo simply retains Eichel, as a fair return could be very difficult to come by. Until then though, this is a storyline that will continue to dominate the off-season.