Jack Eichel saga ends as Sabres deal forward to Golden Knights

Jack Eichel has been traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for a package of Alex Tuch, prospect Peyton Krebs, and draft picks. The Buffalo Sabres, who will not be retaining any salary, will also send a 2023 third-round pick Vegas’ way.

“We are getting a player that I think is one of the top players in the league, one of the top centers in the league,” said Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon. “It addresses a need in our organization. For me, when you look at what an NHL contending team should look like, he’s a really important piece of that.”

Here are conditions on those draft picks:

If Vegas’ First Round draft pick in the 2022 NHL Draft is not a top-10 pick (following the Draft Lottery results) then:

– Vegas will transfer its own First Round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and its own Second Round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft to Buffalo
– Buffalo will transfer its own Third Round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft to Vegas

If Vegas’ First Round draft pick in the 2022 NHL Draft is a top-10 pick (following the Draft Lottery results) then:

– Vegas will transfer its own First Round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and its own Second Round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft to Buffalo
– Buffalo will transfer its own Third Round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft to Vegas

Years of losing soured Eichel on staying in Buffalo. That, along with a disagreement between the player and Sabres franchise on how to treat his neck injury were why he desired a trade.

“I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury,” Eichel said in May. “There’s been a bit of a disconnect between myself and the organization. It’s been tough at times. The most important thing now is to try to get healthy, figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that might be.”

[MORE: Golden Knights have questions to answer before Eichel debut]

Eichel, 25, suffered the neck injury during a March game against the Islanders. He prefers artificial disk replacement surgery, something that has never been done on an NHL player. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said the team wanted him to have the disk fused.

As per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams have the final say on treating player injuries, which is why Eichel could not just go and get his preferred surgery in the summer.

As the dispute lingered on, it was clear there would be no resolution between the two sides. As training camp opened in September, Eichel failed his physical, as expected, and was stripped of his captaincy. “From our perspective and my perspective, I feel the captain is the heartbeat of your team. And we’re in a situation from where we were in the past and where we are now that we felt we needed to address that and make that decision,” Adams said at the time.

Eichel, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, carries a $10 million cap hit as part of a contract that runs through the 2025-26 season and features a no-move clause that kicks in next summer. In 375 games with the Sabres he scored 139 goals and recorded 355 points.

What the Sabres are getting

The 25-year-old Tuch had shoulder surgery in July and has yet to play this season. He’s expected to hit the ice again in January and carries a $4.75 million cap hit through 2025-26. The upstate New York native scored 61 times and recorded 139 points in 249 games for the Golden Knights.

Krebs, 20, was the prospect Adams reportedly wanted in any deal involving Vegas. He was picked 17th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft out of the Western Hockey League. He’s spent parts of the past two seasons between the American Hockey League and NHL. Adams said the team will have him begin in AHL Rochester.

Eichel will have his preferred surgery

McCrimmon said on Thursday that Eichel will have disk replacement surgery soon. There is no timetable on a return.

“It’s really challenging to give you a timeframe because this surgery has never been done in this sport,” McCrimmon said. “I keep thinking 4-5 months, maybe 3-4 months.”

That timeframe would put Eichel out of consideration for the U.S. men’s Olympic team for February’s tournament.

“We’re respectful of what he wants to do,” McCrimmon said. “Why wouldn’t his people want what’s best for him? None of us in this room have the medical expertise to have an opinion.”

No hard feelings

Despite the stalemate that was tense at times, Adams said that he had a long talk with Eichel following the trade and that he wished him well.

“I care about Jack Eichel as a person,” Adams said Thursday. “I told him that. I wish him nothing but the best for him. I want nothing more than for Jack to get healthy. I also told him nothing in this was personal.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Scroll Down For:

    Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

    The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

    Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

    “We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

    Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

    “I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
    0 Comments

    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

    blackhawks
    Harry How/Getty Images
    13 Comments

    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

    Getty Images
    3 Comments

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.