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The Cases For and Against Jack Eichel

Only four teams are competing for the Stanley Cup, but how many teams are competing for Jack Eichel? 

NHL: New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As many teams end their postseason and begin their offseason, trades become a hot topic around the league.

Perhaps the most enticing topic is the Jack Eichel sweepstakes. A trade is becoming more likely each season, and rumors are flying about where he could end up.

For the Arizona Coyotes, acquiring Eichel would right the wrong of the 2015 draft, where despite finishing second to last in the league, the Coyotes picked 3rd overall. They ended up with Dylan Strome instead of Jack Eichel.

A move for a player the caliber of Eichel would be franchise-altering. Before being quick to demand a trade, consider if this move would positively affect the franchise in the long run.

Jack Eichel’s Status

It seems like every offseason, Eichel’s name is brought up in trade rumors. However, time is running out for General Manager Kevyn Adams. According to CapFriendly, in 2022-2023, Eichel’s full no-move clause comes into play for the remaining five years of his $10 million AAV contract.

This year was especially rough for the Buffalo Sabres, who finished last in the league with a record of 15-34-7. Their .330 points percentage is their worst since the 2014-2015 season when they embraced a .329 points percentage in hopes of winning the draft lottery.

That horrendous year rewarded them with Jack Eichel. Ironically, this painful year may be the reason he leaves. The team also received the 1st overall pick in this season’s draft.

Along with the Sabres’ struggles, Eichel also had a tough season. Due to injury, he only played 21 games where he scored 2 goals and recorded 18 points. He had a career-low 3.3% shooting percentage which is way below his average, 10.5%.

The injury that kept him out for most of the season also caused conflict between his camp and management. He said at his end of the year media availability how he felt he had a ‘disconnect’ with the organization on the procedures to resolve his neck injury.

This dispute and Eichel’s zero career playoff appearances have led many to believe that a trade is imminent.

On May 11, Elliotte Friedman discussed many suitors, including the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens.

The Cases For a Trade

It is unlikely the Coyotes are a serious suitor, but there are reasons for them to consider a trade.

Although there are many holes on the current roster, a number one center has always topped the list. The Coyotes’ current first-line center is a toss-up between Nick Schmaltz and Christian Dvorak. Both players show potential, but both would be better suited as a second or third-line center.

Eichel’s goal scoring would certainly booster the Coyotes’ offense. In the 2019-2020 season, his 36 goals are more than Schmaltz (11) and Dvorak (18) combined. Over his career, Eichel’s .95 points per game is more than any current Coyote over their career.

Clayton Keller would finally get a chance to play with a talented center who would take the spotlight off of him. They developed some chemistry on Team USA at the IIHF World Championship in 2019.

That is, of course, if Keller would not be going the other way to Buffalo for Eichel.

The Cases Against a Trade

Several teams in the league have more cap space and assets than the Coyotes. For them to be considered, they will have to reach Buffalo’s high asking price.

This price is undisclosed so far, but it will likely include at least one top prospect, a core roster player, and some early draft picks. The Coyotes do not have the best selection of draft picks or prospects, especially recently.

Buffalo would need one of Arizona’s valuable core players who has produced. The Coyotes would be reluctant to give up Chychrun, but a deal might start that high.

Trading for Eichel will not solve all the Coyotes’ problems, largely because they would be losing pieces too. They are not a contender who is just one piece away from a deep playoff run.

If they missed the playoffs, even more issues would arise with Eichel. The Coyotes do not have much more playoff success than the Sabres which was a major point of contention with Eichel. Many thought all the losses affected his attitude and work ethic.

There is no guarantee that Eichel would not want to leave Arizona with his no-move contract after a few seasons without playoffs. His value would then drop substantially, and he would limit the market to only the teams he approved.

Despite Eichel’s career so far, teams should be cautious due to the injury he sustained this season. He has a herniated disk in his neck, and he wanted surgery performed to fix it. However, the team did not feel comfortable because it has never been performed on an NHL player. It is impossible to know how this will affect his career going forward.

Concluding Thoughts

It is still unclear whether or not the Coyotes should pursue Eichel. Even if they wanted to, many other teams are likely willing to give up more than the Coyotes can.

Jack Eichel is clearly an elite center, but would he fit in Arizona?

That is what GM Bill Armstrong and fans must consider when pondering a potential trade.