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Jack Eichel Traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Players and Draft Picks

Thursday, November 4, 2021 will be marked as the day the Jack Eichel saga officially ended. After months of rumors and trade market talks, a deal has finally been made for the former Buffalo Sabres captain. Buffalo has agreed to trade Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights, in return for a package deal of players and draft picks.

A franchise player

The Buffalo Sabres drafted Jack Eichel second overall back in 2015.  Had he been drafted in any other year he would have easily gone first overall. Alas, the 2015 draft class also held Connor McDavid, who ended up being selected first overall by the Edmonton Oilers.

In Buffalo, Eichel was the Buffalo Sabres’ franchise center-piece. Several times the Sabres attempted to build a playoff quality team around him, and not once have they succeeded. Eichel has yet to see the postseason.

While his six years in Buffalo were not fruitful in playoff experience, they did help him hone the skills that made him into a superstar.

In his six seasons in Buffalo, the 25-year old Centerman recorded 355 points in 375 games. Averaging approximately 59 points a season, on a team that consistently struggled to support his talent. Eichel’s highest tally for a single campaign came in the 2018-2019 season in which he recorded 82 points.

Leading up to the trade

In March 2021, it was announced that Eichel had suffered a herniated disk and missed the remainder of the 2020-2021 season as a result.  Since then, he had been in a standoff with the Buffalo Sabres due to his wish to receive artificial disk replacement surgery. The Sabres, not wanting to take what they perceived as a massive risk, exercised their power over him and refused. This led to the relationship between the player and the team dissolving with Eichel hitting the trade block soon after.

After months of rumors and conflicting reports it was finally announced on November 4 that Eichel was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. It was also confirmed by Vegas management that Eichel will receive the disk replacement surgery he had requested.

He and a 2023 third round pick will be heading to Vegas in return for a package of assets and players.


What’s heading to Buffalo in return

Vegas, in exchange for Eichel has traded: Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a conditional 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick.

Alex Tuch, who is also currently out long term with injury, originally came to Vegas during the 2017 expansion draft. The Minnesota Wild offered him to Vegas in exchange for them selecting Erik Haula in the expansion draft. An offer Vegas took without complaint making Tuch an important player on the team for the next four years.

During his time in Vegas, Tuch was an important factor for Vegas’ forward core. In four years with the Golden Knights, the now 25-year old recorded 139 points in 249 games. He is a player that will improve Buffalo’s top-six as soon as he recovers from his injury.

The departure of Peyton Krebs grants more credence to a reputation that Vegas has established for itself. The Vegas golden Knights have now traded aware their first four first-round draft picks. Brandon Brisson, and Zach Dean are now the only remaining first rounders picked by Vegas left in the organization.

Krebs is an exciting young prospect who was struggling to make an impact in his limited time in Vegas. Having been massively successful in the WHL, Krebs has not yet been able to replicate his performance in juniors to the NHL level. In 13 NHL games Krebs has only been able to record one assist.

Two Golden Knights future draft picks are now Buffalo property as part of this deal as well. Those picks being a conditional 2022 first-round draft pick & a 2023 second-round draft pick.

The Verdict

Jack Eichel is a generational talent who has the qualities the Vegas Golden Knights have so desperately lacked. He is a proven top-line center that has produced despite the poor performance of the team he played for. Once he undergoes surgery, his recovery time has been estimated at three months, though it is not a concrete estimate. Though the surgery itself has many questioning whether he will return as the player he was before.

Losing Alex Tuch may be a tough pill to swallow for many in the Vegas fanbase as it is yet another departure of another original Golden Knight. He has been a valuable presence in Vegas and once he recovers, he will be the same kind of player for Buffalo.

Though Peyton Krebs has great potential, it appears VGK managment did not think it was enough to pass on this trade. Krebs will likely get a better chance to develop in Buffalo then he would have in Vegas as well.

The draft picks Vegas gave up are essentially non-factors for the Golden Knights as they are in win now mode. Though the conditions placed on Vegas’ 2022 first-round draft pick may make things interesting if Vegas misses the playoffs this season.

On paper, many could see this trade as a complete steal for the Golden Knights. It all depends on what type of player Eichel is upon his return to the ice. If the surgery goes according to plan and Eichel makes a full recovery, then Vegas walks away from this trade with a franchise player at a discounted price. However, this is not a guarantee. Only time will tell how this trade works out for both teams.


Featured image courtesy of the NHL

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