More thoughts on Jack Eichel and the Rangers

mika zibanejad jack eichel

For the first time in two weeks, it’s a slow day for the Rangers. The only news that impacts them is that Jack Eichel’s camp has requested a trade again, which favors the Rangers. Eichel’s doctor was also on with Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts Podcast, explaining the operation Eichel wants versus the operation the Sabres want to give him. It’s a great listen and really gives great insight into the actual details from a real doctor, as opposed to social media doctors and doctors in the comments.

1. Per Eichel’s doctor, the operation is artificial disk replacement surgery for Eichel’s herniated disk. This operation would give Eichel his full range of motion back and have minimal, if any, complications/side effects down the road. Meanwhile Buffalo’s preference is a surgery that would limit range of motion and likely require another operation at 34 years old, when he’s no longer Buffalo’s problem. With the limited range of motion, Eichel would not be the same player he is today.

2. This screams of Buffalo not looking out for Eichel’s best interest. They want to get a quick operation and not worry about what happens to him once he’s not under contract with them anymore. Given how Buffalo has handled this publicly, this checks out. Eichel is looking out for his well being and, while the surgery he wants hasn’t been used on many pro athletes, it is supposed to bring him back to the player he was.

3. For the Rangers, acquiring him means the surgery risk in addition to the acquisition cost and the cap cost. Given what has leaked and which teams are now out of it, the Sabres lose leverage almost every day that passes. This does give the Rangers the advantage as one of two (Anaheim) realistic teams still in the hunt. This also means whatever cost Buffalo thought they were getting isn’t going to be the return. Sorry Sabres fans, but you need to come back down to Earth too.

4. Trade value for Eichel when fully healthy probably should have cost something like Kaapo Kakko, as was rumored last year. However Eichel is not only not fully healthy, but the situation in Buffalo is untenable and a trade is both needed and demanded. Buffalo has no leverage anymore. A Rick Nash package is probably the best that they will get, which was Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, and a 1st round pick. The equivalent for the Rangers would be Ryan Strome, a 1st round pick, Zac Jones, and maybe Julien Gauthier? Remember Buffalo can flip Strome for more assets at the deadline.

5. At this point, all the fault lies with Buffalo for fumbling this worse than Mark Sanchez against the Patriots. They shouldn’t have been greedy and asked for the #1 overall pick in 2020, as rumored. They also shouldn’t have been greedy and asked for the world when everyone knew Eichel had an injury. Now they will settle for 50 cents on the dollar.

6. If we assume the Rangers have Eichel, Mika Zibanejad, and Filip Chytil as their top-three centers, then that is incredible center depth. Make no mistake, a fully healthy Jack Eichel makes the Rangers infinitely better. The questions now are about whether or not he can get back to fully healthy after the surgery he wants.