There is no question that the Boston Bruins will have deep-rooted, strong interest in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel when he inevitably becomes available for trade.
He’s 24 years old, just entering the prime of his career and the Bruins sorely need some young impact talent at the center position with both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci in the twilight of their NHL careers, and with Krejci in the final year of his contract with the Bruins. The Krejci contract situation actually opens up the space for a franchise-type player like Eichel from both a roster perspective and a salary cap point of view with four more season at $10 million per year still on the books.
There is no worry about how the Bruins would afford him. They could theoretically afford Hall while still holding enough money to re-sign Taylor Hall, Tuukka Rask and anybody else they were motivated to keep in a Boston Bruins uniform. Hall was very vocal in his support of his former teammates, Eichel, when asked about his differences of opinion with the Sabres a couple of days ago.
The challenges are twofold when it comes to landing Eichel among all other NHL franchises with the interest expected to be league-wide and with the Buffalo Sabres badly in need of a home run when they move the disgruntled face of their franchise. First, they have to believe that the Sabres will move Eichel within the division and to a team that will routinely kick the tar out of them on an annual basis following the deal.
The Sabres are used to being a bit of an embarrassment in NHL circles when it comes to their results on ice but subjecting the fans to Eichel frequently kicking their teeth in isn’t a good business move for Buffalo. They’d be better off sending him out West where he’d be out of the Buffalo picture, or even a very logical move to the New York Rangers would get him out of the Atlantic Division once it’s reconfigured in the near future.
But the bigger issue from a Boston Bruins perspective is the cost for a player like Eichel. We’re talking about a 6-foot-2, 210-pound center that scored 36 goals and 78 points in 68 games last season while finishing as a plus player on a bad Sabres hockey club. Even though Kevyn Adams couldn’t get a first round pick for Taylor Hall and was essentially strong-armed by a player with a no-movement clause to make a deal with the Boston Bruins, he knows he’s going to need to land a major haul for Eichel when he’s dealt.
And the Bruins aren’t really in that position with their prospects and draft picks. They don’t have any high draft picks in the first round, and they won’t anytime soon. The Boston Bruins have some good prospects like Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen, but other NHL teams around the league have better prospect collateral when it comes to making a seismic NHL trade.
They aren’t going to deal young franchise players like David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy or Jeremy Swayman for Eichel, either. All three of those young players should be just as “off limits” in trade talks as players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand clearly are at this point in their Black and Gold careers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave Bruins GM Don Sweeney with much at all to wave in front of the Sabres in an Eichel trade. A team like the New York Rangers with a boatload of young assets makes much more sense, and the Chris Drury connection to a player like Eichel (they shared the same agents, Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli, and have the always strong BU connection) shouldn’t be underplayed either.
The bottom line in all of this: As much as the Boston Bruins would love to land Eichel when he inevitably becomes available, it just doesn’t feel like a realistic scenario when you coldly and dispassionately look at all the factors involved.
Now a look at the rest of the BHN Puck Links:
*Interesting stuff from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman, who has details behind the differences of opinion between the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel over his medical situation. It sounds like the bridge has already been blown to bits. (Sportsnet)
*Pretty cool stuff with the Tampa Bay Lightning featuring what’s believed to be the first all-black forward line in NHL history earlier this week. Hockey truly is for everyone. (The Athletic)
*The Pittsburgh Penguins will be up to 50 percent capacity for their home playoff games next week, which should make for a nice home ice advantage for them. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of competitive advantage the hockey teams with the bigger home crowds will enjoy. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
*A great story from FOH Ian Mendes on a group of kids in Ottawa that helped celebrate a hat trick for Tim Stuetzle when he wasn’t able to feel the love in an empty hockey arena. This is the kind of stuff that makes hockey great. (The Athletic)
When you score your first NHL hat trick with no fans in the stands, the local kids make sure it gets all the recognition it deserves. #GoSensGo #Senators #JimmyStu #Sens @BradyTkachuk71 @joshnorris10 @Senators pic.twitter.com/OkC8JrRGCo
— Andy Morrisey (@andymorrisey) May 10, 2021
*Thank goodness Jaromir Jagr is not planning to retire after recently completing his 33rd pro season for the team he owns in the Czech Republic. (NHL.com)
*Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette pretending not to know who “The Perfection Line” is during yesterday’s media availability with the media is something else. I think he’s going to find out who they are soon enough.
Also, Peter Laviolette pretending not to know who the Perfection Line is referring to is high comedy: “Who? What line did you say?” pic.twitter.com/OFxOGet77P
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) May 11, 2021
*For something completely different: An enlightening and fascinating conversation with Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn and Ellis Burks about blazing the trail as black MLB mentors suiting up for the Red Sox. (Boston.com)