Jack Eichel is going to be traded. We know that. We also know the Vegas Golden Knights needs a true number one center. As they pursue a deal to bring Eichel to Vegas, are there any players on the Golden Knights that should be untouchable?
The Buffalo Sabres have made their demands for the 24-year-old forward, but many around the league are speculating that despite the ask the return won’t be as high. Part of that is the unknown regarding his recovery from a neck injury. Part of it is knowing the Sabres hands are tied with the timing. They must deal Jack Eichel before the No Movement Clause in his contract kicks in, severely limiting the teams he could be traded to. And Sabres GM Kevyn Adams appears to be eager to move him prior to this year’s NHL Entry Draft, which makes sense because acquiring teams need to plan how they’ll fit the contract in before free agency.
When it comes to the Golden Knights, they have prospects they could offer like Peyton Krebs, Cody Glass and more. Buffalo desperately needs goaltending, but would the Sabres be interested in Logan Thompson? Thompson just dominated the season with the Henderson Silver Knights in the American Hockey League, winning almost every possible award and showing the promise of a real number one goaltender. While it would be tough to say yes, I still think Thompson is not untouchable as a trade option when you consider the return.
Because of the Sabres’ need in goal, I would certainly listen to offers on the Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner tandem, but in reality that’s very unlikely. Fleury has one year left and doesn’t want to go anywhere. Lehner has more time but has already had a stint in Buffalo that didn’t go so well. I can’t see the Sabres having an appetite to reacquire him despite his much-improved play after he left the organization. It’s possible that if a third team was involved seeking a goaltender you could move an extra draft pick or another player to Buffalo in a three-way deal. This is actually something that could happen because of the return someone like Lehner could fetch.
At forward, I would only suggest two players are untouchable: Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Those two players are your cornerstones, and everyone else is in play. It would be hard to part with an Alex Tuch or Jonathan Marchessault. I would probably protect William Karlsson because Vegas does need a strong second center and he is definitely that. Otherwise, unless you think Chandler Stephenson can sub for Karlsson in that 2C role (which I don’t see him as a fit there) all remaining names are on the table.
Defensively, we know Alex Pietrangelo is not going anywhere. Also, I think Shea Theodore should be held back. Theodore had a down year this year, and if you did trade him now I’d fear selling too low. Plus, I still believe he is a future Norris Trophy winner for this franchise and can’t see him being dealt. Re-signing Alec Martinez is a priority, and I would not let him go either. Beyond those three, I think everything is on the table including some of the young, promising players like Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague. There will have to be some sacrifices to acquire Eichel, and defense is one place I think Vegas could deal from a position of strength.
So at the end of the day, I have a very short list. Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore. Otherwise, my ringer is on and I’m willing to listen to offers to acquire Jack Eichel.