Yes, we’re at that time of year already where hockey experts and fans alike are driving the Jack Eichel trade rumors machine back into life, and speculation has only intensified over the last few days given that the Buffalo Sabres can’t seem to get out of their own way.
Despite new General Manager Kevyn Adams going all out in the offseason to placate his franchise cornerstone by signing elite winger Taylor Hall to a one-year, $8 million deal and acquiring veterans in the ilk of Eric Staal and Cody Eakin, the Sabres are 5-7-2 on the year and, stuck in what is an incredibly competitive East Division, are in very real danger of not making the postseason for a tenth consecutive year.
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With the Hall experiment not really working either, it does feel as though we’re on a collision course with Jack Eichel soon wanting out of Buffalo, and you can’t really blame him given that he’s not played one single Playoff game since entering the NHL in 2015-16 and he’s well behind the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Auston Matthews when it comes to the conversation of the greatest young players in the league right now.
Perhaps a change of scenery and going to a contender and a franchise that isn’t always in a state of chaos would help Eichel achieve his dreams of one day winning the Stanley Cup, and there is one team that consistently crops up in the Jack Eichel speculation sweepstakes.
The New York Rangers.
Now, we’re going to delve into why the Rangers and Jack Eichel could be a good fit, before mapping out what it would take for the Blueshirts to pull the trigger on what would be an absolute blockbuster of a deal. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Why Jack Eichel and New York Rangers could be match made in heaven
I will preface this by clearly stating that I am a hardcore New York Rangers fan and would of course love to see Jack Eichel strut his stuff at Madison Square Garden, but this isn’t a piece designed to make myself or other Blueshirts fans feel better.
No, for whatever reason there’s always been a strong link between Eichel and the Rangers and these whispers of a reunion between the forward and Blueshirts Head Coach David Quinn, with the duo going to the 2014-15 NCAA Championship game together while with Boston University, just don’t want to seem to go away.
There are reports out there that Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton really wants Eichel and even kicked tyres on him this past offseason, while it is known that this franchise would like to add one more big star to this roster in order to finish the rebuild with a bang and officially usher in what will hopefully be a golden era of New York Rangers hockey.
Jack Eichel would fit that bill and he ticks all the boxes for the Rangers.
For starters, it is no secret that the Blueshirts lack depth down the middle behind No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad and, while their farm system is loaded, they don’t really have any uber-talented studs waiting in the wings. They have Filip Chytil who could develop into a top-six center, and they also have Brett Howden who is more of a nice bottom-six player, but they lack a real game-changer at center.
Therefore, trading for an elite talent in the ilk of Jack Eichel would answer all of the Rangers’ prayers and he would immediately form a lethal one-two punch down the middle with Mika Zibanejad, perhaps rivalling that of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci of the Boston Bruins.
Eichel would go from having one good year of Jeff Skinner and no other real weapons around him to being able to play with the likes of Artemi Panarin, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko on a nightly basis. I mean, the difference is day and night in what the 24-year-old would have around him at MSG.
Having those elite weapons would no doubt help Eichel to go to that next level, which is a pretty scary thought given that he hasn’t recorded less than 50 points in each of his first full five seasons in Buffalo, including 82 points (28 G, 54 A) in 2018-19 and 78 points (36 G, 42 A) in a shortened season in 2019-20.
So, not only would Jack Eichel be joining a team clearly on the rise and on the cusp of being a contender, which would allow him to really unlock his full potential and show what he can do in the postseason, but his presence would also push the New York Rangers over the top and give them the final piece they are looking for and craving.
It appears to be a match made in heaven in pretty much every single way, and the chance to play in a huge market such as New York at the World’s Most Famous Arena would also no doubt excite Eichel, who could see his stock rise off the ice given that he will be playing for a much bigger and more attractive franchise.
So, it is clear that trading Jack Eichel to the New York Rangers would work out pretty well for both the player and the team, but what about the Buffalo Sabres? They will need something pretty substantial in return and we’re going to explore what that return could look like now…