Jack Eichel is likely done in Buffalo. Where do you feel would be the best fit for him?
James O’Brien, NHL writer: To me, the keys are: a team that’s already good, has cap space, and some urgency to win ASAP. With an estimated $20M in cap space, I’d love to see the Boston Bruins pull this off. No doubt, it would be tricky, especially since the Bruins have (gulp) no really established goalies signed right now. Boston might struggle to put together the ideal trade package, too. (I’d love to see some innovation. Maybe echo the NBA with the Anthony Davis/etc. trades that involved a star going for just a bucket full of picks?)
But how fun would it be to watch the Massachusetts native get a chance to prove that he’s truly a superstar on an already-strong team that signed Taylor Hall for cheaper-than-expected? Goodness, just imagine the series the Bruins could have against the Lightning, or even the Panthers, in what would be a terrifying Atlantic Division. (Actually, it already is.)
You can apply that blockbuster logic to other teams, as it would be fun to watch Eichel with the Avalanche, Penguins, Golden Knights, or other teams that probably shouldn’t even imagine being able to make the numbers work. It seems more feasible with the Bruins, and the hometown hook only makes it juicier.
(Although, Panarin and Eichel running wild for the Rangers sounds fun, too. Continues imagining endless fun scenarios)
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: The best fit is Boston because he clearly seems to want to play there, and it would put him on a legitimate Cup contender for the first time in his career. Is Buffalo going to trade him to a team within its own division, though? Also, does Boston have enough young assets and picks to match Buffalo’s asking price? Seems like that might be another challenge.
Outside of the Bruins, the Rangers seem like an ideal fit because they do have the young assets and picks to match Buffalo’s asking price, the Rangers are ready to start contending, and they have the salary cap space to acquire him right now. The same can be said for the Los Angeles Kings.
I know Minnesota gets a lot of discussion lately but given the Wild’s salary cap situation over the next three years adding a $10 million player into that mix is going to make it really difficult to build a team around him. While it would be great for Minnesota to have Eichel, I am not sure that will put him in a spot where he can win.
Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: Eichel will likely end up in Anaheim, much to his chagrin. While the Rangers or Wild would be the best fit for Eichel, I think the Sabres will send him far away as possible and pick up some nice prospects like Trevor Zegras for the talented Eichel.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Even after re-signing RFAs Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov, adding Eichel — after buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — would add another jolt of excitement to a franchise that is trending upward. Kaprizov’s arrival did wonders for the Wild, and bringing in a franchise, impact center would continue their ascent.
There is a fine line here. Adding Eichel would be adding a ton of cap space to your books. Bill Guerin can see those three ugly years with the Parise/Suter cap hits eating up space. So any trade will have to see dollars go out as you bring in a $10 million cap hit through 2025-26.
If Sabres GM Kevyn Adams sticks to his ask of four assets in return, that could mean Fiala and/or Jordan Greenway heading out the door along with some top prospects. The Wild could use Eichel, but at a cost that may also need to include prospects like Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi, especially when you factor in the future cap squeeze? Maybe holding out might allow for a lighter return if no other teams are willing to pay up.