The Athletic (subscription required) release their most recent trade deadline board, which naturally had Jack Eichel on it. What was interesting was the analysis, in which one NHL exec said, “Jack Eichel is going to be a New York Ranger, I just don’t know when.”
Naturally this led to the trade proposal engine churning again. But the article was also quick to say there were others who thought the Kings would have the better trade package. Specifically, LA has the high-end center prospects that the Rangers don’t. Also, LA isn’t in the Eastern Conference, which is probably important for the Sabres.
The Young Guns are Untouchable
This is the rub with any Eichel to the Rangers scenario. The Rangers are not going to include K’Andre Miller, Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, or Igor Shesterkin in any trade. Not even for Jack Eichel. The Rangers reportedly balked last summer when Buffalo asked for Kakko.
Just because that quintet is unavailable, doesn’t mean the Rangers don’t have the pieces to make things work. There’s a valid argument that the Rangers could still put together a great package. After all, there’s still Nils Lundkvist and Vitali Kravtsov, one of which would likely be needed in a trade of this magnitude.
There Are No Comparable Trades
The problem with all these packages for Eichel is that they are based on pure speculation. When was the last time a star player in his prime was traded? Tyler Seguin? That was a mess of a trade, and Boston was competing. They needed NHL talent. Buffalo is not competing.
Ryan O’Reilly? That was also a disaster, as he wanted out and Buffalo had to trade him before his massive signing bonus. He got two salary dumps, a late 1st, a late 2nd, and a B prospect. From the Rangers, that’s Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, a prospect like Lauri Pajuniemi, and a 1st and 2nd, which would be more in the early side of things. Let’s be real, Buffalo isn’t taking that for Eichel.
Rick Nash maybe? That cost the Rangers two young middle of the roster players, a top prospect, and a 1st round pick. But Columbus wanted to compete and needed NHL talent.
What Does Buffalo Want?
This is the third and perhaps most important thing to remember. We don’t know what Buffalo wants. What is their direction? Are they rebuilding on the fly, thus want a package tailored for that with NHL pieces? Or are they gutting the roster, and want futures? The Rangers have the pieces to make both of these happen.
In addition to all this, there are two things we know for sure. The first is that Buffalo will not get fair value for Eichel. Eichel is going to be the best player in the deal. Thus Buffalo, by default, won’t get Eichel production in the aggregate.
We also know that Buffalo isn’t going to take scrubs for Eichel. This isn’t the O’Reilly situation. Nor is this the Seguin situation. Which circles us back to what Buffalo wants. Until that gets known, and the direction of that franchise is known, then nothing is set in stone.
Some Ballpark Guesses
If Jack Eichel is going to be a New York Ranger, then it may be fun to put together some trade proposals. I usually am not a fan of doing these, but I’ve written a few posts about Eichel without putting up my own proposal.
Bonus! Let’s put together two. One with futures, and one with a rebuild on the fly. Just a note – in a trade this large, other pieces like mid/late round picks and lesser prospects or AHL players are usually included to balance out the trade. I’m not going to even attempt to figure that out. Just the key players.
Rebuild on the Fly
To the Rangers: Eichel
To the Sabres: Filip Chytil (young middle-six center), Tony DeAngelo (salary), Alex Georgiev (they need a goalie), Pavel Buchnevich (top six winger), 1st round pick, 2nd round pick
*-Reminder that DeAngelo has minimal, if any, trade value. Teams will be able to get him for free this summer. The Rangers will buy him out if they can’t get a trade partner that will take the full contract, or a retention amount equal to, but not more than, the buyout cap hit.
To the Rangers: Eichel
To the Sabres: Strome (salary), Kravtsov (A prospect), Braden Schneider (A prospect), Morgan Barron (B prospect), Lauri Pajuniemi (B prospect), 1st, 2nd
Both trades give Buffalo quality for whichever direction they are headed. It also assures the Rangers aren’t giving from that important quintet. Both sides win. But, I think LA can do better than both of these deals.