Jack Eichel Trade Talks Take a Bad Turn for the Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 31: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) appears to be grimacing during warmups prior to the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres NHL game on February 25, 2021, at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY. (Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Congratulations, Buffalo, you’ve managed to somehow look like bigger clowns than you did even just a week ago. The little bit of momentum the club had in any Jack Eichel trade talks has just been blown out of the water by Eichel’s agents.

Late Friday night Eichel’s agents sent out a statement about how frustrated the Eichel camp is that a trade hasn’t been done by the start of free agency. The biggest dagger in the statement is that Eichel isn’t being allowed to undergo the procedure he feels is best for his neck. Eichel wants to go for an artificial disc replacement in his neck and the Sabres and their doctors want Eichel to have a fusion done instead.

On the latest episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek had on Dr. Chad Prusmack who is the neurosurgeon who has given Eichel the recommendation to have the disc replacement and the reasons why he feels it would suit Eichel better in the long run than the fusion.

Unfortunately for Eichel, the Sabres hold all the cards in this scenario and they’re not afraid of showing that they hold the power.

The problem that I have with this whole scenario isn’t even from a hockey standpoint but from a personal one. While the team is well within its rights to not let a player have a certain surgery as deemed by the updated CBA, there’s a human aspect here that’s certainly hard to ignore. While I’m sure there’s some Sabres fans and NHL fans in general that will say this is what happens when you sign a contract to play for a team, it is extremely hard to sit there and ignore that a team is stopping a player to do what they feel is best for themselves in not only the short term but the long term as well.

Now from purely a hockey perspective, all this information coming to light does the Buffalo Sabres absolutely no favor whatsoever. I’ve always been of the thinking that if Buffalo was serious in trying to move Eichel that it would have been done by the start of free agency if not sooner to try and capitalize on their return. With the news of Eichel’s frustration mounting that not only is a trade not close but the club isn’t allowing Eichel to do what he feels in his best interest, the package that Buffalo receives for Eichel if a trade ever gets done will be far lower than originally expected.

I don’t think anyone has ever gotten on Buffalo for trying to get the best possible package for Eichel that they believed was possible but it was how the club was going about it by overplaying their hand and thinking they had more leverage than they actually had. With teams like LA and Vegas already backing out and teams like Minnesota and the Rangers believing the price for Eichel was way too high, there’s no real serious suitors for Adams left.

The Eichel sweepstakes will likely come down to the Rangers and Wild but it’ll be on those teams terms and not Buffalo’s. With Eichel’s camp now publicly shining a light on the Sabres and how they’ve handled this entire situation it will really shine a light on what the team’s true intentions are with Eichel. Trading a superstar player is never ideal under any circumstances but with all this new information coming to light, Kevyn Adams’ job just got one hundred times more difficult. Congratulations, Buffalo, you’ve played yourselves.

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