One outlet says it’s on the one-yard line. Another outlet says talks between the Buffalo Sabres and Vegas Golden Knights cooled over the weekend. And Vegas Hockey Now is chumming our sources, who helped us break the news last week, for the real story. The NHL trade saga of Jack Eichel is in month seven, and it’s time for it to end.
But are we at the finish line? Or is it about to cycle back to the beginning?
Elliotte Friedman appeared on Jeff Marek’s podcast. Friedman’s take was simple: talks were hot last week, then cooled through the weekend.
“I do know that last week talks with Vegas got pretty hot, and then they cooled,” Friedman said. “It’s one of those things where Vegas and Buffalo know where each other stands…and they know what the issues are.”
That issue is not just the sky-high valuation on the NHL trade market, but money, too. Eichel carries a $10 million AAV for five more years. That’s a formidable salary to add in mid-stream. Friedman speculated the teams could be looking for a third team to absorb some of the salary, but there’s a big problem.
“One of the things I’ve been told that complicates this–if Buffalo is not going to retain (salary)–will anybody else help facilitate the deal? But let’s say, for argument’s sake, if you asked Arizona to pick up some of the money, you’re asking Arizona to do it for five years. What’s that worth?”
It’s worth a lot more than one first-round pick, which has been the going price to absorb a couple of years of salary. Taking on five years of cap space is enormous. Heck, someday, one of the teams like Arizona, which has cap space, might be competitive and want to spend it.
However, ESPN’s Emily Kaplan offered a different take on Tuesday night.
“The saga now has two finalists – the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights,” she said. “There was a lot of work done over the weekend, and today I was told the trade is at the one-yard line…
….Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams is working extremely hard on this to get things done. However, he’s also been very firm in his stance, and neither Calgary nor Vegas has met him on his full demands yet.”
Maybe a better question is: Is it first and goal from the one, or fourth and goal with a goalline defense?
The Hockey Now network has been reporting for months the ask for Jack Eichel is no fewer than four pieces (not including assets that may have to go the other way for salary cap reasons).
Our colleague in Calgary, Steve Macfarlane, examined just what Calgary can offer and what they can’t.
We did the same for the Golden Knights.
Vegas Hockey Now is working to break the tie, as Eichel awaits his fate in the Boston area. The Buffalo Sabres are currently tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division at 5-3-1 (though Tampa Bay has one more ROW). Many teams have tried to snag the NHL trade market’s biggest prize, including the Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, and LA Kings.
They all dropped away.
The Vegas Golden Knights and the Calgary Flames. It’s down to two Jack Eichel, but neither has sealed the deal. It may not be possible for either to complete the Buffalo gauntlet. Our gut says it’s closer to fourth and one than it is first and one.