Would Eichel trade make sense for Flames, Golden Knights?

Would Eichel trade make sense for Flames, Golden Knights?
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[UPDATE: Eichel has been traded to Vegas for a package that includes Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs.]

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Jack Eichel trade rumors are once again heating up. According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the latest frontrunners in a Jack Eichel trade are the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights.

Crucially, Kaplan reports that both the Golden Knights and Flames would allow Jack Eichel to pursue his preferred neck surgery (artificial disk replacement) in the trade process. Indications continue to point to the Sabres refusing to retain salary in a Jack Eichel trade.

Let’s dive into how a Jack Eichel trade might work for the Flames and Golden Knights. Before we do that, though, a caveat. This Eichel trade process has been bumpy, and there have been plenty of setbacks. Dallas Eakins said it well when asked about rumors of Eichel possibly getting traded to the Ducks:

So, sprinkle the requisite grains of salt. Or something like that. Anyway …

Should Flames trade for Eichel if Tkachuk is part of price?

Kevin Weekes tweeted out something that raised plenty of eyebrows:

If nothing else, that hypothetical Matthew Tkachuk – Jack Eichel trade proposition really lights up the imagination. But dig into it more and, while it’s still intriguing, you can also mislead yourself. Consider a few factors.

  • “Former first-round pick” lights up the imagination. But ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski notes that the Flames have some less-than-stellar potential options. Ultimately, that part of the package is vague.
  • Matthew Tkachuk’s the real deal. However, he’s also a pending RFA who could cost a pretty penny. His current cap hit ($7M) isn’t cheap, and his qualifying offer would be $9M.

So, there are some caveats.

But … considering the sort of bind the Sabres seem to be in while trying to trade Jack Eichel? That seems pretty intriguing. It’s also perfectly plausible that the Sabres could just flip Tkachuk for more assets after trading away Eichel.

At 23, Tkachuk is in the meat of his prime. Still, who knows how long the Sabres rebuild might take?

Eichel vs. Tkachuk

Beyond all that, what about Eichel vs. Tkachuk? By certain underlying metrics, you could argue it’s a close call. Consider this three-year RAPM chart comparison from Evolving Hockey:

The science says it: they both rule. (Via Evolving Hockey)

Of course, that only tells part of the story.

For one thing, Eichel’s a play-driving center, while Tkachuk is a play-driving, [blank]-disturbing winger. You have to note that Eichel seems to have a higher scoring ceiling, scoring 355 points in 375 career games (vs. Tkachuk’s 284 points in 358 career games).

If both are healthy, Eichel’s the superior talent.

That’s an uncomfortably large “if” for the Flames in considering an Eichel trade, though. Personally, I cannot recall many star NHL players undergoing significant neck surgery in the meat of their primes (Eichel is 25).

Broadly speaking, disk replacement surgery is more likely to allow Eichel wider neck movement than fusion would. We can’t be certain Eichel will be the Jack Eichel we once knew post-surgery. Hence the hesitation to trade for him in the first place.

For the Flames, a Jack Eichel trade is likely worth the risk. The team may want to move on from Tkachuk, considering they’ll need to sign Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane after this season.

Flames GM Brad Treliving has been called a “riverboat gambler” before, so an Eichel trade would arguably be in character.

If the Sabres extracted Tkachuk and some valuable futures in an Eichel trade, it would be an impressive bit of work by GM Kevyn Adams. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

What about an Eichel trade for the Golden Knights?

Speaking of gamblers, the Vegas Golden Knights love to go all-in.

For us mere cap-fearing mortals, a Jack Eichel trade feels tough to imagine for the Vegas Golden Knights. How much would the injury-ravaged Golden Knights lean on LTIR placements to make an Eichel trade work?

For any Jack Eichel trade suitor, the 2021-22 season is a small part of the equation. Thanks to how things dragged on, it’s tough to imagine him playing much (if at all) before the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Golden Knights might be OK with that. Again, they’re banged up, and may embrace the possibility that a playoff push could be a real slog.

With some medium-sized contracts for the likes of Evgenii Dadonov and Reilly Smith, you could start to pile things up to Eichel’s $10M cap hit. It’s tough to imagine the Golden Knights putting together the sort of Eichel trade package that would amount to Tkachuk + some nice futures … but maybe the Flames and/or Sabres were being cagey in giving that hypothetical so much air?

Beyond the logistics, the Eichel – Golden Knights fit could be fascinating. Ponder this:

  • Chandler Stephenson‘s been a great fit between a when-healthy winger pairing of Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. In particular, his skating, savvy, and transition value really mix well with Pacioretty – Stone. Well, Eichel is a transition beast, and drives play. Consider Eichel the equivalent of Stephenson on one of Super Mario’s power-up mushrooms. (Or maybe that star that makes Mario invincible? Look, I’m too old to make “Fortnite” analogies. Sorry.)
  • The Golden Knights could also keep that great line together, and have Eichel power another line. Then he could boost a power play that’s been strangely powerless, even when people are healthy.

Above all else, the Golden Knights making the Eichel trade would be just … fun.

In other sports, contending teams go for it. Some do it over and over again, like the NFL’s Rams.

Maybe the Golden Knights are just too “new to this” to realize they’re supposed to wait idly by. Or maybe they realize that, deep down, the NHL is in the entertainment business.

And, for all of the setbacks in the Jack Eichel trade rumblings, maybe Wednesday really could be the day?

Stay tuned.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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    NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

    “It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

    Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

    “It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

    The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

    Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

    John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

    “Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

    Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

    “That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

    Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

    Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

    The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

    “You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

    Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

    NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: At Vancouver on Tuesday night.

    Devils: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.