Yesterday Twitter exploded as Bob McKenzie came out of retirement with some NY Rangers news. The Rangers have at least discussed Jack Eichel with the Buffalo Sabres. Nothing came of the talks, at least not yet. However something like that, when McKenzie comes out of retirement to make note of it, is significant. As usual, I have thoughts.
1. McKenzie started by mentioning the Rangers have had discussions regarding Eichel. Later in the thread, he noted that nothing came of it. His agent refuted it, and the Sabres refuted it. The basic summary is that the Sabres aren’t looking to trade him, but GM Kevyn Adams received calls.
2. However where there is smoke, there is fire. McKenzie doesn’t just come out of retirement to tweet something like that. He doesn’t care about getting Twitter mentions anymore. So why do it? Maybe he was interested from a personal aspect, but why tweet it? Why not mention the other teams that also called about Eichel’s availability? Seems like we are only getting a piece of this.
3. Regarding Eichel not requesting a trade, he doesn’t have much of a choice. He’s signed already. He has no leverage in this situation even if he did want out. The only thing he could do is sit out games, which he’s not going to do. Eichel wanting out, even publicly, doesn’t hold much clout.
4. On to the Rangers. The cost the Rangers would need to pay to land Eichel would likely be astronomical. When I had posed this question in June, I was told by someone in the league (not with either team) that the cost begins with Kaapo Kakko or Adam Fox. It’s safe to assume the #1 overall falls into that category. It’s highly unlikely the Rangers pay that price, thus the deal is off. That, of course, is in the normal NHL.
5. But this is COVID NHL. This is a league that will have more than half the league on internal budgets with no revenue coming in. The Sabres already made a move to shave some real dollars by acquiring Eric Staal. With no end in sight, paying Eichel $10 million a year might be a bit much. That said, Eichel already received $7.5 million of his salary as a bonus on July 1. The Sabres only owe him $2.5 million for the rest of the season. The guaranteed price tag beyond still remains.
6. In this situation, and assuming Buffalo eventually has to penny pinch, does that change the asking price? You’d have to assume Filip Chytil would be the next ask. Tony DeAngelo likely would be included. The 22nd overall this year is a no-brainer. Probably an unprotected 1st rounder in 2021 as well. Buffalo is still giving up the best player in the trade by a country mile though. A blue chip prospect likely needs to go as well.
7. In this hypothetical situation, the Rangers would add $10 million to the cap for six years. That would mean $21 million tied into two forwards, and $28 million into three forwards. This doesn’t include Mika Zibanejad, who is due a big raise after 2021-2022. Would the Rangers commit $38 million to four players?This is where the Rangers trade Zibanejad. Yes, it seems blasphemous. But Eichel is better and four years younger. Tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is.
8. In the end, Jack Eichel and the Rangers is likely a pipe dream at the moment. This is a point in time evaluation, since things change.
9. A player like Eichel doesn’t get traded at 23 years old either.
10. Just leaving this nugget – what if Buffalo retains salary?