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Jack-Pot! Full Analysis of Golden Knights Trade for Jack Eichel

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Jack Eichel Vegas Golden Knights

Jack Eichel is finally a member of the Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL trade carousel can spin around someone else.

Like so many things in Las Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights trade went down overnight. The Golden Knights acquired Jack Eichel and a 2023 conditional third-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 conditional first-round pick (top-10 protected), and a 2023 conditional second-round pick.

 

It has been months in the making but the deal is finally official. The Vegas Golden Knights outbid the Calgary Flames on the Jack Eichel sweepstakes.

The NHL trade rumors began to circulate after Eichel missed the majority of the 2020-21 NHL season due to injury. Eichel was at odds with the Sabres medical staff and their disagreement over treatment. Eichel, who still needs herniated disk replacement surgery, rejected the Sabres proposal of playing through the injury and sat out the remainder of the 2020-21 season on IR. Eichel reported for Buffalo training camp and failed his physical. He was unceremoniously stripped of his captaincy.

Eichel, 25, has not played a game since March 7, 2021, and is expected to be out until after the NHL’s 2022 Olympic break in February. Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed today that Eichel will have his surgery “very soon” and does not have an exact timetable for his return.

“Jack and his team have been working diligently to sort out what their next steps are in terms of surgery. He will have surgery. He will have the ADR which is artificial disk replacement which is unique in relation to NHL players,” said McCrimmon.

Artificial Disk Replacement Surgery or ADR is a complex surgical procedure where a metal and plastic prosthesis disk is inserted into the neck to help assist a worn-out intervertebral disc. Eichel is the first player in the NHL to have this new type of surgery.

“It’s really challenging to give you a timeframe because this surgery has never been done in this sport. I keep thinking 4-5 months, maybe 3-4 months. I see you all grab your pens & write that down, and I’ll tell you we don’t know, said McCrimmon.

What Eichel brings to Golden Knights:

Despite the new surgery, adding Jack Eichel is a massive accomplishment for the Vegas Golden Knights. Eichel, who has five years left on his $10 million deal has a good shot at becoming one of the great players in Golden Knights history. He is in the prime stages of his NHL career.

The former Hobey Baker award winner has put up 355 points in 375 games played over six seasons. The 2015 second overall draft pickhas been often overshadowed by that year’s first-overall pick Connor McDavid. However, when healthy, Eichel is talented enough to be one of the top stars in the NHL. He finished eight in Hart Trophy voting in 2019-20.

“We are getting a player that I think is one of the top players in the league. He’s in the prime of his career. It addresses a need in our organization. When you look at what a contending team should look like, he’s a big piece of that,” said McCrimmon.

Last season the Golden Knight’s first-line center in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was Chandler Stephenson. With all due respect to Stephenson, who is currently the Golden Knight’s leading scorer, Eichel will be a significant upgrade to the Golden Knight’s center depth.

The Golden Knight’s top six, at least when fully healthy, now includes Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jack Eichel, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith.

That’s every bit as good as the Colorado Avalanche, if not better. In fact, that top-six is deadly.

“There’s only a handful of guys in the world with game-breaking ability when a game gets tight they can make something out of nothing. Jack is one of them,” Golden Knight’s head coach Peter DeBoer said on Eichel.

Eichel joins former teammate Robin Lehner in Las Vegas. The two played together for three seasons in the Sabres organization from 2015-18. Lehner shared his excitement of reuniting with Eichel by posting a gif of him and Eichel on Twitter.

What did the Golden Knights give up?

Sabres general manager Kevin Adams reportedly wanted four “first-round-level” pieces in the return for Eichel. The Golden Knights traded former first-round picks, Peyton Krebs (17th overall 2019 with Vegas) and Alex Tuch (18th overall in 2014 to Minnesota) as well as a 2022 first-round pick. That’s three.

But instead of a fourth asset, the Sabres traded a 2023 third-round pick for a 2023 second-round pick for some added spice to the trade. Gut reaction here, but if Eichel can remain healthy once he comes back and be the superstar player that we all know he can be, the Golden Knights will make out like bandits in this trade.

Many people will note the Golden Knights have traded away all of their first-round draft selections since 2019, but winning has a cost and giving away part of the future is the price the Golden Knights have to pay. Peyton Krebs (Eichel) joins Cody Glass (Nolan Patrick), Nick Sukuzi (Max Pacioretty), and Erik Branstrom (Mark Stone) as first-round draft selections traded by the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are trying to recapture that magic that they had in their first year of existence. Since making it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2018 the Golden Knights have added Stone, Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo, and now Eichel.

The Golden Knights went big in an effort to win their first Stanley Cup. There are more than a few teams who shied away. McCrimmon got it done.

Alex Tuch, who proved to be a serviceable top-six forward for the Golden Knights will return home. He grew up in Syracuse, NY. He scored 139 points in 249 career games with the Golden Knights.

“Alex Tuch has gone from being a good young prospect to a tremendous player. He’s a quality person. We wish him nothing but the best. We think he will do great things for the Sabres organization,” said McCrimmon.

Tuch is currently recovering from a shoulder injury and is expected to be out until January.

“That’s the hard part of this. They (Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch) are good people, they liked the city and they liked the team,” said Golden Knights alternate captain Alex Pietrangelo.

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