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Deep Blue Sea: Jack Eichel traded to Golden Knights

Plus Pittsburgh Penguins’ COVID situation, an independent review of the NHLPA’s response to Kyle Beach and more in today’s news and notes.

Jack Eichel #9 of the Buffalo Sabres is defended by Connor Bunnaman #82 of the Philadelphia Flyers during an NHL game on February 28, 2021 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Well, Jack Eichel has finally been traded out of Buffalo. The good news is that this saga is over after almost a year. The bad news is that he’s now on the San Jose Sharks’ biggest rivals, the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Buffalo Sabres finally pulled the trigger on a Jack Eichel deal, sending the forward along with a 2023 third-round draft selection to the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Alex Tuch, prospect Peyton Krebs, a 2022 first-round draft selection (top-10 protected) and 2023 second-round draft selection.

The Golden Knights have agreed to allow Eichel to pursue the artificial disc replacement surgery that he desires, and he likely won’t return until after the Olympic break.

In this deal, the Golden Knights finally get the first-line center they have been waiting for since the beginning of their franchise, while not giving up too many key pieces to their current line up.

Alex Tuch is a top-nine forward who is currently on LTIR with a shoulder injury, and will likely return sometime in January. He had 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) through 55 games last season, and is signed at $4.75 million annually through 2025-26. He is a Syracuse native, and he said “being from Upstate New York, it’s been a dream of mine to put on the Sabres jersey. Thank you, Buffalo, and I can’t wait to get started!”

Peyton Krebs is the younger piece in this deal, and is going to be a main building block in this Sabres retool period. He was drafted 17th overall in the 2019 NHL entry-draft, where he fell due to injury troubles during his draft year. Since then, he has struggled to produce at the NHL level, with just one point through 13 career games played with Vegas. The Sabres have since assigned him to the Rochester Americans, their American Hockey League affiliate, and are preaching “patience” when it comes to his development.

Along with this, the Sabres received a 2022 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick. The first-round pick however is top-10 protected, which means if the Golden Knights end up picking in the top 10 in this year's draft, all three picks involved (including the third-round pick Vegas received) will slide to the next draft year.

Now, I don’t really need to give you a summary on Eichel, but I will anyway. People have seemed to forget how good he is when he’s healthy. He has every asset to be a top-ten center in the NHL. He has a tremendous shot, good hockey IQ, is quick on the power play and extremely skilled, but due to his limited games played as of late, along with his recovery from surgery, there’s certainly a risk factor for the Golden Knights.

Just a note that Eichel has played just 21 NHL games since April 2020, over 580 days. I don’t think it’ll be a huge deal for somebody of his caliber, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. In his recent season, he scored 18 points (2 goals, 16 assists) through 21 games played.

The Sharks play the Golden Knights once in March, and twice in April, so it’s very possible we will see Eichel play against San Jose at some point this season, making these already heavily anticipated rival games that much more exciting.

News & Notes

  • Three under-the-radar rookies shining through in the NHL [The Hockey News]
  • How Vegas’ blockbuster trade for Eichel impacts Sharks [NBC Bay Area]
  • State of the NHL’s California teams: Finally, some hope for the Sharks, Kings, Ducks [ESPN]
  • Sharks News & Rumors: Kane, Madden & COVID situations [The Hockey Writers]

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