SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated the LA Kings could trade for Buffalo’s Jack Eichel right now if they wanted to. What does a return look like?
With the Buffalo Sabres off to another slow start, could a team like the LA Kings get involved in putting together a trade package for star center Jack Eichel? SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman certainly thinks so. The reporter joined The Instigators show to discuss the on-going rumors swirling around the Sabres former second overall pick in 2015.
“Obviously the way the Sabres came back out of the break with two really rough losses has started a lot of talk about what could be happening here,” Friedman explained. “We know that this is something that came up last summer, okay, and I don’t know if it was ever close. The feeling I’ve always had is that Buffalo knew that Eichel was unhappy. They asked Eichel to take a step last year and he really did. We talked about how much of a step Eichel took last year, and still when it came to team success, it just didn’t really go anywhere.”
We already know acquiring a 24-year old superstar on an eight-year, $80M deal that goes through the 2025-2026 season will require an extensive haul the other way.
“It would be big. It would be big,” Friedman confirmed.
“You’re not trading an unrestricted free agent. You’re trading a guy who’s got several years on his contract.
“I do think if Buffalo wanted to do it, and the Rangers wanted to do it, if Buffalo wanted to do it and the Kings wanted to do it, they could do it now.”
We spoke with our friends over at SabreNoise, discussing what a potential return might look like, and together, we narrowed it down to two scenarios.
Trade #1: Alex Turcotte, Akil Thomas, and two future first-round picks
Friedman said it would cost a lot, right?
We know Dylan Cozens is on the way, and the 20-year-old had an outstanding performance for Team Canada at the 2021 World Juniors, tallying eight goals and eight assists in seven games. But outside of Cozens, the Buffalo Sabres don’t have a lot in terms of top-tier centermen prospects in their prospect pool. You lose a guy like Eichel in a trade, you need to start filling the void.
Any trade likely begins with 2019 fifth overall pick Alex Turcotte. Akil Thomas would give Buffalo another highly-touted prospect up the middle as well. We also have two future first-round picks included in this particular deal, with one (or both) a good bet of being protected.
Trade #2: Quinton Byfield, future first and second-round pick and NHL-ready prospect
Here the LA Kings would be sending the second overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, draft capital, and a player close to plugging into an NHL lineup. Eichel would immediately give the Kings a perennial 70-to-80 point-producer who is still entering his prime. Of course, you’d hope the team would have the other pieces in place, or players developed far enough along, to make a Stanley Cup run before Eichel’s contract expires.
As far as that NHL-ready prospect, someone like a Rasmus Kupari, who currently leads the AHL in points, or a Tyler Madden goes the other way while also bolstering the Sabres up the middle.
What likely happens
Personally, I don’t see the LA Kings making a deal for Eichel. It’s fun to project out these trades, but at the end of the day, Rob Blake and the Kings’ front office are committed to developing their top prospects and filling in the voids once Byfield, Turcotte, Thomas, etc., graduate to the NHL.