How a blockbuster New York Rangers trade for Jack Eichel could work

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jack Eichel (9)
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9). Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

What would the New York Rangers have to give up for Jack Eichel?

First and foremost, Jack Eichel is an elite talent and one of the premier young talents in the entire National Hockey League, so the Buffalo Sabres would expect a monster haul back for their franchise cornerstone if they decided to trade him, and that’s exactly what they would get.

Now, right off the bat, it is important to note that Eichel doesn’t have a No-Movement Clause in his contract until July 1, 2022, meaning that the Sabres will have control over where he is traded, if he is, and they would almost certainly go to the highest-bidder if they decide to part company with their Captain before 2022.

While they would probably prefer to trade out of the Eastern Conference, there are few teams with the capital to make a trade of this magnitude work, and the New York Rangers are one of those teams. For starters, they have one of the best farm systems in the entire NHL and they boast a plethora of high-end prospects that would bolster what is a depleted Buffalo pipeline.

Also, after the 2020-21 season, the Rangers will have a much better cap situation and that will allow them to comfortably accommodate Eichel’s $80 million contract, which has five years remaining on it after this season with an Average Annual Value of $10 million, along with a $7.5 million signing bonus that is due in 2022.

According to CapFriendly, the Blueshirts are currently projected to have around $50 million in cap space in 2022-23, and that could only increase should the NHL be in a position to increase the salary cap by that point in a post Pandemic world.

So, now all of that is out of the way, what would the New York Rangers have to give up to get Jack Eichel? A hell of a lot for sure but it is important to note that there will probably be a few untouchables, including defensemen Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller and forwards Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.

The Rangers clearly see those players as the faces of this franchise and the core of what they hope to be a championship-caliber team, but everyone else will be on the table. I mean, Chris Kreider could be seen as an untouchable given he’s recently signed a seven-year, $45,500,000 contract extension with the franchise and is seen as potentially the next Captain of this team.

Of course, you have to give up talent in order to acquire talent so, that being said, the Rangers would more than likely have to give up either Kakko, Fox or Miller if they really want Jack Eichel on Broadway, although I do think Lafreniere would be off the table for the Sabres, but let’s see how it shakes out.

Pavel Buchnevich (89)
Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

However, this is a team loaded with a boatload of prospects and you could see the likes of Vitali Kravtsov, Matthew Robertson, Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich, Morgan Barron and maybe Nils Lundqvist in addition to an absolute bounty of high-end picks included in any potential deal.

Now, we aren’t saying that all of those pieces would be sent over in trade, but those are the kind of names you could expect to see included in a deal. And, while some will fight back in response to this article and say that the Sabres wouldn’t trade Eichel unless someone like Lafreniere or Kakko was included, keep in mind that the Rangers aren’t going to trade two of their main assets for one player given they want to win soon, and also, Buffalo will hardly be trading from a position of strength if Eichel actually goes ahead and asks for a trade.

Granted, the Buffalo Sabres would still be getting a hell of a lot back for their Captain but you aren’t going to see a kind of deal where a Lafreniere or a Quinton Byfield (if the LA Kings traded for Eichel) are included in almost a swap deal for Jack Eichel. You just aren’t being logical if you think that is possibility.

The bottom line is that if Jack Eichel is traded it is because player and franchise have reached the point of no return, which would wipe out any leverage the Buffalo Sabres would have otherwise had in trade talks and, again, they will get an absolutely bounty back from any potential trade partner, but they aren’t going to get a generational talent in the ilk of Alexis Lafreniere back in any return.

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Anyway, this is a situation to keep an eye on and if the Buffalo Sabres don’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020-21, then expect speculation regarding Jack Eichel’s future to rage once again and, if he somehow becomes available, then don’t be surprised if the New York Rangers with their bounty of draft capital and prospects, their exciting young core and a Head Coach who has a prior relationship with the player quickly become the frontrunners to acquire Jack Eichel in a trade.