First, let’s start with the trade news that is just now coming out of the Buffalo Sabres organization… according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, “Buffalo has Brandon Montour available. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.” Montour is the latest name on a list of potential players who could be moved. Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, Taylor Hall, and Jack Eichel have all been discussed recently.
While some reports suggest the Sabres and Hall will talk extension this season, there are many who are skeptical as new names seem to pop up weekly for the Sabres and as the team creeps closer and closer to being sellers at this year’s trade deadline.
Of course, the biggest name is Eichel’s. Could the Sabres actually move the star center knowing they aren’t likely to get equal value back in return? Rumors suggest he’s growing restless and that teams are willing to step up if the Sabres make him available.
A recent story by Lyle Richardson over at Bleacher Report notes five teams as early favorites should Eichel shake loose.
Who Stands the Best Chance at Eichel?
It would take significant pieces to acquire Eichel from the Sabres but Richardson believes the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils could all be players.
The Red Wings
Steve Yzerman is rebuilding this Detroit team but there’d be no better way to speed up the process than adding a dynamic superstar. With just $36.2 million invested in eight players for 2021-22, there’s lots of room to add Eichel’s annual $10 million salary-cap hit.
In return, the Sabres could look for a first-round pick plus other assets and names like Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider or Filip Zadina could also be dangled as part of a package.
Promising center Gabriel Vilardi would be the likely centerpiece of any trade between the Kings and the Red Wings. Top prospects Quinton Byfield and Alex Turcotte could also be in play. They too have plenty of cap room.
Richardson says the Devils have ample cap room and the Sabres could ask for Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes along with a top prospect such as Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote. They could also seek one of the Devils’ two third-round picks in this year’s draft along with their first-rounder.
The Athletic’s John Vogl reported the Rangers have previously looked into acquiring Eichel and with concerns over the production of Mika Zibanejad and the uncertainty surrounding Ryan Strome’s future with the team, Eichel makes a lot of sense again.
The team has salary cap space and considerable depth with promising young players the Sabres might find attractive.
Ottawa has some young and talented in forwards in Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, and rookie Tim Stutzle. Would they be willing to move one for Eichel? Eichel would finally address their longstanding need for a top-line center and the Senators would be able to speed up their rebuild, something the owner has promised fans.
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