The LA Kings reportedly showed interest in acquiring Jack Eichel before the trade deadline. Will a deal get done this summer?
"“The Los Angeles Kings have seven players on Craig Button’s top-75 affiliated prospect list. They have the goods to bring a guy like Jack Eichel to SoCal, and more importantly, they’ve had interest. I can tell you that the Kings had a cursory conversation before the deadline with the Buffalo Sabres about acquiring Jack Eichel, and I expect that to pick up in a big way this summer.” – TSN/Seravalli"
Eichel broke the internet on Monday when quotes from his exit interview with the team revealed the ugly truth inside the Sabres’ organization.
“I’ve been a bit upset about the ways things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” he said via ESPN. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. There’s been a bit of a disconnect between myself and the organization. It’s been tough at times. Right now, for me, the most important thing is just trying to get healthy, figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that might be.”
The 24-year-old was limited to just 21 games, scoring two goals and 16 assists for the last-place Sabres.
Eichel was one of several Buffalo players to express their frustration with the organization on Monday, with another potential trade candidate in Sam Reinhart not sure if he wanted to go through another rebuild.
Eichel has yet to have surgery on his neck, which could lower his value because the expected recovery time is five to nine months. If his neck takes the full term to heal, he’d be missing part of the 2021-2022 season for his new team.
Still, there are plenty of reasons for and against making a trade for Eichel, which we could argue about at nauseum. The Kings have the assets to do it, but any trade likely begins with asking for Quinton Byfield to be included. If the Kings can somehow keep Byfield, they’d probably be looking at parting ways with a player on the NHL roster, two top prospects, and one or two draft picks, depending on how high the selections are.
Eichel is under contract through the 2025-2026 season, but he comes at a $10M AAV cap hit. Salary cap space isn’t an issue right now, but acquiring Eichel and taking on that contract will certainly limit what the Kings can do in the immediate future, at least until contracts like Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick come off the books.
“Listen, my No. 1 interest is Jack Eichel, you know what I mean?” the 24-year-old added. “You gotta look after yourself. You gotta look after what’s best for yourself. The organization has a similar job to do, which is to look out for what’s best for the Buffalo Sabres.”
This is the second time that Eichel has been linked to the LA Kings this season, and it appears that he and the Sabres are headed for a divorce.
The question then becomes what kind of return Buffalo is looking for to get this deal done, and can they get it done without giving up Byfield. If they can somehow find a way to keep the 2020 second overall pick, you have to pull the trigger to accelerate the rebuild.