Musings

7 Thoughts From 7 Days: On Jack Eichel to the Rangers, and other options

For a couple months, I’ve been piggybacking off Elliotte Friedman and our own Brandon Cohen on this weekly thought post. While I’d usually do these ad-hoc, I liked the idea of consistency and a common theme. This week, as the front office shakeup has already been covered, these thoughts will be about those Jack Eichel to the Rangers rumors, and what other options there may be.

As an aside: I’ve been toying with the idea of adding this weekly post behind a Patreon for a couple bucks a month. Figure $2 a month for this weekly post. You’d wind up, on average, paying about 50 cents a week for it. Let me know your thoughts on that in the comments.

1. It seems almost inevitable that the Rangers land Jack Eichel. This seems to be like the Rick Nash, where he was rumored to the Rangers for over a year before the trade was finally made. The Rangers made a real offer this past summer, and now are poised to make another offer. The difference? The cost may have come down. For starters, Eichel wants out. That may not hold as much pull as you might think, but remember Jacob Trouba wanted out and it only cost the Rangers Neal Pionk a mid-first round pick. The other thing is Eichel’s injury. Spinal fusion or cervical disk replacement surgery are not fun. Anything with the spine isn’t The latter is an experimental surgery as well. That will play a role in negotiations.

2. Another difference, per Elliotte Friedman, is the Rangers don’t have the #1 overall pick (yet). That was a big deal breaker, as it should have been. Assuming the Rangers don’t win the lottery, a first round pick this year will be in play. This is the year to trade a first round pick, as the consensus is that the draft doesn’t have that high end talent. There are still great options, but the depth just isn’t there. Plus, given all the assets in the pipeline currently, the Rangers can afford to deal a first round pick. This isn’t like other years where the Rangers had nothing in the cupboard. They have so many assets they are running out of roster spots.

3. Like Nash, Eichel will cost a lot, but likely not as much as we think. The premise that he will cost an arm and a leg is certainly valid, but history has shown that dealing the best player in a trade never nets fair value. Nash. Joe Thornton. Tyler Seguin. Never has a player netted fair value. This is where the trade proposals we see online falter. We think of fair value, but not actual value.

Eichel will cost a few young current assets and a few future assets. That likely means a roster player for salary (Ryan Strome), a young high ceiling prospect (Nils Lundkvist or Braden Schneider), a young middle ceiling prospect (Lauri Pajuniemi), a “useful” young roster player (Julien Gauthier/Brett Howden?) and a 1st round pick or two.

4. One thing to keep in mind if you’re Chris Drury, you don’t address a need at center by gutting center depth. Trading both Strome and Filip Chytil leaves the Rangers right back where they started. This is why I lean Strome and Howden while giving up the significant piece in Lundkvist or Schneider. Also replacing Zibanejad with Eichel doesn’t move the needle. Having them both does.

If I’m reading this right, I think the Rangers are targeting a 1-2-3 punch of Mika Zibanejad, Eichel, and Chytil. Even with Strome’s awakening the last two seasons, and I truly think he’s going to continue being good and a leader for a few more years, he still doesn’t seem to be in the future plans.

5. If (when?) the Rangers acquire Eichel ($10 million), and they intend to keep Zibanejad at around $8 million a season, then something else needs to give. The Rangers would be at $44.1 million in cap space between that duo, Artemiy Panarin, Jacob Trouba, and Chris Kreider. Given the flat cap, something else might need to happen with the roster to fit all that down the road.

I say “MIGHT”, and emphasizing it again, because in looking at the numbers, the cap space thing is very overblown. If my math is right, adding Eichel, subtracting Strome and DeAngelo, giving $6.5 million to Pavel Buchnevich, and then reasonable deals for the RFAs, adds about $19 million to their offseason cap space of $23.775 million. The following year with Mika ($8 million) and Adam Fox ($7 million?) and then bridge deals for Kakko and Kravtsov adds $39 million to their $47 million in cap space.

I honestly think the first potential issue is when Alexis Lafreniere is up in 2023, and that may be enough time to let other scenarios play out. It’s not perfect math, but it gets the point across.

6. One last thing on Eichel: I think the most important thing is his health. The drama with the Sabres denying his surgery sure is something. It doesn’t make sense that they would deny him even the spinal fusion surgery, yet they are. Perhaps they are just waiting to trade him so they don’t have to pay for the surgery? But wouldn’t that be covered by insurance anyway? That’s a full Q conspiracy theory, but given the Pegulas, I’d believe it.

7. If Eichel doesn’t happen, then the Rangers may look elsewhere at other center options. I know everyone likes Barkov, but unless something drastic changes, Florida isn’t moving him. A name that I’ve heard that intrigues me is Elias Lindholm from Calgary. This comes from the rumblings that Calgary is looking to make a big shakeup. Lindholm wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Eichel and is half the cap hit. Calgary’s direction is even harder to predict than Buffalo’s though, so let’s just chalk this up to me spitballing.

Another interesting option is off the grid a bit, and talking with LA about their center prospects. With Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, Gabriel Vilardi, and Rasmus Kupari, they have a glut of middle-to-high ceiling centers. I’m not entirely sure what the match is there, but it’s a little outside the box thinking. Think along the lines of the Sergachev/Drouin trade.

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  • Great article Dave. I see way too many people on Twitter saying they don’t want Eichel because it means we HAVE to give up Kakko for him. Like you said, star players hardly ever get traded for fair value. I think a lot of people will be surprised at what the actual price will be for Eichel—wether he’s traded to New York or somewhere else.

  • If Eichel passes the physical and he wants out. We should should sit and wait. Let the Sabres squirm for a while and bring the price down.

  • no one wants Eichel here, almost everyone agrees and this board loves Gorton, but Gorton was going to overpay for Eichel last year. Thankfully, the guys running the Sabres were worse at their jobs than Gorton.

    Everyone sad that the rebuild is over or that Drury is going to be forced to do something stupid yet JD and JG were trying to end it last year but know one wants to speak on that.

  • Enjoy the read and I agree that the package will be lower than many Ranger fans think. Also, Eichel injury to the spine should be a concern & he must pass with flying colors to even be considered an option as there are other options to acquire a center other than Eichel. Lastly, the need to get more toughness/grit on the B-line & on the 4th line is equally as important as getting a #1 center. This should be an interesting off season

  • What I don’t get is the fit in cap space. Zib is a point a game player and will command at least 9 mil. If you sign Eichel, you have almost 40 million in 4 players( E,Zib,Panarin,Trouba).How will that hamper the rest of the team going forward? Surely Strome would be gone and we would have to get another center that might be almost as costly(5-7 m). Fox will be due as well as Shesty. So can we win the cup with some minor tweaks that don’t put us in cap hell? I think we can.

  • I am uncertain as to whether or not I am in favor of trading for Eichel, but I am of the opinion he is not as hurt as he is leading on. I really think he wants out of Buffalo and is using it as a bargaining chip. The Rangers will do their DD on the injury and decide if its the right move for them.

    • You don’t try and have neck surgery if you’re faking it. I agree he was most likely over playing his earlier injury but you don’t push for a spinal fusion if you don’t need it.

    • Hey Matt not for nothing, if Eichel is using his neck as a tool to get out of Buffalo and if the Rangers were then unfortunate enough to acquire him….would you ever trust anything out of his mouth?

  • I think it’s a mistake trading for Eichel. I hope they don’t do it. He doesn’t address what this team is lacking or needs, and his cap hit will be a real issue…especially if he’s not the same player after his neck injury. I’d much rather have the Rangers use his 10 mil/year and put it towards the “will” players everyone is talking about the past two weeks. Not goons, but big, greasy goal players who are preferably mean.

    The other way of looking at trading Eichel is if Buffalo is going to do it what are they signaling to their fanbase? I think it means a total tear down and restart. If that’s the case why would they want Strome or Buch back in a trade for Eichel? They’d want draft picks and prospects. This year’s draft is thin, under-scouted and unpredictable, due to some minor leagues not even playing during the pandemic. The next two drafts are supposed to be good ones, so if I’m Buffalo I’d want a 1st under from 2022, KK and/or Chytil, and a D-man like Miller to start. Whether they get that is on the Rangers. Personally, I would be hesitant to trade Miller.

    • They HAVE to take money back in this current flat cap market, that’s why Strome — unless the Rangers can pull off a separate deal. Even if they do a teardown and get rid of guys like Reinhart, Risto and Eichel, you still need a few vets — plus they can flip Strome at the deadline for “profit”.

      • I understand your point, but I disagree. Let the Rangers deal with their cap issues separately. If I’m Buffalo, I’m trading away my star player. I don’t want Strome. He’s a great complimentary piece, but not one to start a rebuild around…and I don’t think his value is as high around the league. He’s important to the Rangers, but not so sure he fits on a lot of other teams in the same capacity (on and off the ice). Buffalo should realize this and insist on Chytil, KK, plus a young D-Man instead. Will they? Who knows? I just hope Eichel ends up in Calgary, AZ, or anywhere else but with the NYR.

  • I prefer to believe Eichel won’t happen — too many red and yellow flags. The idea of obtaining a young center at reasonable trade value should be getting us all excited, right? But it isn’t. Instead, we are worried about the inevitability, and what that will mean. I personally think it’d push the Rangers toward a squeezing of the contention window and expanding of a later mediocrity window, as we wait for long-term, expensive contracts to expire.

    • “Expanding the mediocrity window”—that is a great phrase, it pretty much describes the Rangers’ operating philosophy. Why win 1 championship, when 5 straight first round playoff defeats can bring in similar revenue?

  • Eichel is damaged goods. Trading for Jack would be like taking out a mortgage to buy a house with a sinking foundation.

    The Rangers have plenty of talent and players that can score. They need to add some toughness to stop the other team from taking liberties on their players. They don’t need Jack Eichel.

  • If you think Nils Lundkvist or Braden Schneider are going to be included then your whole premise is skued in the wrong direction as not a single other person (Dreger, Friedman, Kypreos, et al) say they are non-starters.

  • Your points make sense. And I agree with the cap space we have the next 2 seasons we would have no problem fitting him in and most others in. 2023 is the pinch point.

    We keep talking about who fits and who doesn’t fit. I know people aren’t going to like this but, Kreider is the guy who doesn’t fit by 2023. He’s 3LW on the depth chart now and can we afford to pay a 3LW $6.5 Mill? He doesn’t kill penalties. He’s a good net front presence, but he needs to bring more than that and at this point in his career he is not going to pass Panarin or Lafreniere on the depth chart either. We also need to spend a little money on the 4th line.(not break the bank but we need more than spare parts) I realize he still has a full NMC through 2023-24, but there’s a point where he becomes a luxury.

    The cap should go up by 2022-23 if these new TV deals are what we think. But by how much?

    Our biggest need is still for grit and size on the 4th line. And that comes at far less of a price. Not saying we can get someone like Eichel and build a 4th line, but the cap will becoming limiting. And tough decisions are going to have to be made.

    • should have traded Kreider last year at the deadline, when he decided he wanted to play…Mantha was a ransom…we could have gotten the same…instead we have a 3rd liner making 6.5mm…great move by Gorton.

      • That’s a tough one. We were making a play off push and we hadn’t won the #1 pick. Factor in JG and JD were partially let go because Dolan expected play offs this year and I can’t condemn JG for the signing. The contract isn’t outrageous either, although I hate the NMC, the term and AVV were fair.

        • What Mr.” I think Gretzky wouldn’t have been a good player without Sather”?

          I am sorry but anyone who thinks this has no idea about hockey or professional sports.

        • I completely agree with this point. It is completely hindsight.

          But, why did we Draft Laffy after we had just signed 2 LW to long term contracts being Laffy was a LW.

          This right here is the biggest mistake Gorton made. They should have drafted Byfield. It was the smarter choice based on the previous moves. Panarin and Kreider.

          I understand at the time you couldn’t trade away the next coming of Crosby as the scout’s essentially had fated Laffy to be, but that just gives you more leverage to negotiate a better deal for the 2nd overall pick and let LA take Laffy since you are set at that position for the next 6 or 7 years at that time. Laffy was set as the number 1 months before the draft. It wasn’t even close at the time.

          I think this is what should have sealed his fate. Gorton wasn’t a good negotiator. He was a excellent talent scout. I just don’t think he used his leverage in this situation wisely or at all and it ultimately led to this season’s outcome.

          I am not presently or at the time mad at signing kreider. He has a skill that isn’t regularly available. Actually it is quite rare. But once that contract went into place it mandated that Laffy shouldn’t have been taken by us. And it was up to him to make a deal to not make it look bad on us for not taking Laffy.

          We all know how it has gone from there.

      • CK contract was JGs’ worst contractual move after Shattenkirk. I don’t think there was a great market for him and rather then let him go for nada and incur huge wrath from fandom made his best deal. The bad part is not the dollar value but the NTC/NMC.

    • I believe by as much as $5M if other streams return to normal by then. The US deal is about triple the prior deal.

    • Kreider is actually the 2LW on the current depth chart and it is not close. Alexis Lafreniere has not passed him yet and any thought that he has is delusional. It is far from delusional to think that he will pass him in the near future – but I don’t believe that will happen either.

    • Salary Cap won’t go up for years. New TV contracts add about $150mm/yr net, escrow deficit is along the lines of $600mm.

      So 4 years of flat cap, then the cap goes up ~$5mm.

      • A lot people don’t even realize what is going on with players salaries and how they are being deferred.

        I am not a expert in this area but I remember reading like Panarin is really only getting like 5 or 6 million this year and for the next 4 till the seats start to fill back out because of this escrow deficit.

        I think there are alot of disgruntled players right now. But they did their best to play a season in these absolutely crazy times. And for that I am very thankful. But this is going to go on till everything settles up.

        Dave I would love to see a post on this particular subject. See just how much these guys are really getting paid and how it is mostly likely affecting their production and commitment to teams.

      • My bad, old contracts (US linear & OTT) were ~$300mm, new contracts ~$650mm. So net gain is $350mm/yr, so escrow wiped out in 2 years; cap could rise by $11mm.

        This will make for nothing but bridge deals going forward.

  • The match with LA is that they don’t have the high end defensive prospects that we do. So a Jones or Robertson swap for Kupari could work. Also, defense depth will go a long way toward acquiring Eichel. Though most assume Buffalo will want a center back, they actually have a nice group of young center men. Figure they can add another with a top 5 pick this year. They really need to build defense. As far as paying to read these blogs: not happening

    • This is a defense heavy draft … there may only be 1 Center Top 10-15 … so they’ll get a defenseman.

    • A Lunkvist centered pakage for Turcotte and Vilardi?

      I still think Benett is a good idea.

      They have two good to great future NHLers in Lundkvist and Jones. In addition they have Skinner, Reunanen Pajuniemi and some other pieces–this year’s first, the 4th from LA–some of the expendable depth players who do not get taken by the Kraken and some roster players like Strome, Chytil, Buch and Kravstov who could be moved for the right price.

      With Fox they should move Lundkvist and Jones for Forward needs. They don’t need Fox, Jones and Lundkvist all in the lineup. They are too similar and Fox is most likely the best player. Lunkvist could surprise but I doubt it.

      Obviously they can’t trade all of these pieces. But they could use a few for a big multi-player deal or two separate deals.

      This and one or two smart UFA signings and this could be a very different team next year. A playoff team.

  • Eichel in NY is a big win. Complain all you want regarding the price, but he is worth it. The only way we sip from the Cup is with another strong center. Jack fits the bill.

    • one dirty hit from wilson might end his season or career. i had spinal fusion c3 right under my head. surgeon told me dont get hit in the back of your head.

      • This is a worry. With what they would have to give up and Mika’s health and injury history, having the Mika/Jack one-two could be amazing or could ruin the team.

  • For those worrying about the cap hit with Eichel….remember that Strome’s next contract will likely be around $6.5M per year so Eichel would cost us $3.5M MORE on the cap. I have no issue with $3.5M more for Eichel (with Strome going the other way). He’s 4 years younger and he creates plays. Strome is good but he is a supporting cast whereas Eichel is the main actor….all this, of course, depends on Eichel’s health….if healthy, my offer is Strome, Kravstov, Jones, 2021 1st rounder, 2022 second rounder….gotta give to get

      • I would hate to trade Kavs or Buch but would for the right deal. Kravs may end up being a pretty special player. I thought he played hard and played smart. He was sound defensively and showed real high potential offensively. Look at the player Buch is now. Love the guy and think Kravs has the potential to be a much better version of the player Buch has become.

    • imo way too much for a guy who might not have a full swivel below his head. I would give up the draft choices and rights to Nils(from what I’ve read it seems like he wants guarantee to play in order to sign, I don’t personally like that chemistry) if Buffalo takes 4 mill in cap back.

  • Broken goods. Hasn’t played a full season since his first. Would be great in regular season but come playoff time will disappear.

    Remember folks the people asking for eichel are also the ones that called for buch to get traded.

  • #6 “….. Eichel will cost a few young current assets and a few future assets. That likely means a roster player for salary (Ryan Strome), a young high ceiling prospect (Nils Lundkvist or Braden Schneider), a young middle ceiling prospect (Lauri Pajuniemi), a “useful” young roster player (Julien Gauthier/Brett Howden?) and a 1st round pick or two.”

    … and that should be it, although I’m not keen on the “…. or two”. This draft may appear to be weak, but less so the two after that. It’s the injury that’s the elephant in the room — he’s damaged goods. I’m still not convinced we get Eichel and prefer #7 (or moving Chytil up and getting a bona fide “heavy” 3C that can win faceoffs), but let the doctors start talking. It’s negligence to not at least listen. Hopefully Drury thinks this through and doesn’t feel immediate pressure to make a “splash”.

  • Another interesting point (for me anyway)…I checked Eichel’s signing bonus structure on CapFriendly and was surprised to see that there is no signing bonus to be paid this July. Next bonus is paid in July 2022. That takes the pressure off of Buffalo to trade him before July 1st….also, watch out for Columbus….would not be surprised to see them offer their first round pick (likely top 5)….they have 3 firsts and Jarmo wants a top line center.

  • So now, when he can be used as an asset in a trade…Howden has become a young “useful” player? Hypocrite much?

      • So I guess you have the same low opinion of Gauthier, as you lumped them together under your quotes. Funny, I don’t remember reading the same number of negative article on him, as I have on Howden. Just sayin’.

  • Now Reinhart’s not happy in Buffalo. He was an outstanding center in juniors. Is a 50 point guy. Jones, Pajuami, and this year’s first should do it. Plus you get him out of Buffalo.

  • One thing I think the management shake-up makes certain. Strome is not part of the future. I looked at the fifteen forwards who played more than a handful of games. Seven averaged over a hit per game and five averaged less than 0.5 hits per game. The bottom six were the four kids (Laf was at 0.8), Panarin, and Strome. Some or all of the kids may evolve and Panarin is Panarin, but I can’t see a commitment to having more grit is consistent with keeping Strome.

  • I think your trade value is spot on except Lunqkvist or Schneider i dont want to lose either of them but we have to give something reasonable it will be a tough call for Drury on who he decides to give. I would start the package with Chytil and Zac Jones.

    • If it doesn’t include Strome, this deal doesn’t have any sense, particularly adding 21 year old top 6 potential center in a mix

  • Trading for Eichel would tell me that the Ranger organization has learned absolutely nothing from the past 20 years of trading for big name/contracts that other teams are only to happy to unload
    If a trade with the Kings can be worked out you absolutely do it
    Eichel will NEVER be a winner

    • There is no single reason believe Eichel is not a winner, dude stadily produce in absolutely clown organization with no plans and dignity

  • When mentioning centers, I noticed you didn’t include Barron. He needs to play 3rd line center next season, so if we trade for a center e.g. Eichel, both Strome and Chytil must go, unless you move Chytil to wing.

  • Just want to add 1 point I think almost all of you are overlooking.

    Who is the veteran leadership on this team?

    Mika leads the team with 600 games. Followed by Trouba/Smith who are somewhere close to that range. To put this in perspective Jumbo has 1679 games played. 179 games in the playoffs alone. That is almost as much as Chytil has gotten in 3 years of playing regular season games.

    Are you guys all saying the leadership will come from the Head Coach and his staff?

    Chytil,Howden,Kappo,Kravtsov, Miller, Lafreniere, Jones, Scheider, Barron,Fox, Lindgren …this list is endless. None of these guys even have a full season of 82 games under their belt yet. They have yet to experience the full grind of a regular nhl season.

    And you think Eichel is going to lead this team? Or Mika for that matter? Make no mistake about it. This is the most prominent issue in drury’s future. And the matter I would hope he is going to handle first and foremost after this dismissal of Quinn.

    This is the biggest issue with this roster outside of being tough to play against. Consistency is our most glaring flaw.

    • Just curious do you still think Gretzky would never have been a great player without sather? HHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • There wont even be any trade talks if these 4 players Lafreniere, Kakko, Fox, n Miller are not in the conversation. Whether you like it or not 2 of them will be required to make any deal for Eichel.

  • Eichel just seems toxic to me. He’s just always rubbed me the wrong way. And that was before the injury…

    I feel like he’d come here and it would be just a matter of time before a messy breakup. Almost like a coach, he’d have a timeline of some sort before he’d start wearing out his welcome. And now with the injury?! No f’n way.

    I like your last point the most. Skip all the bs, and make a deal for a center with LA. Go see what they’d want for Byfield or Turcotte.

    • He spent 1st 3 years in Baffalo wiith no words, and it’s not toxic when player doesn’t want to participate in circus like Sabres

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