One of the biggest stories throughout the NHL offseason has been the growing tension between the Buffalo Sabres and former captain Jack Eichel. Eichel is unhappy about the direction of the team and about the fact that the Sabres won’t let him undergo a cervical disk replacement surgery (that hasn’t been done on an NHL player before).
Buffalo has tried to move him throughout the summer, however, it’s hard to get good value for a player who’s injured and has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be around the Sabres anymore. That’s left a lot of people wondering just where Jack Eichel will play in the 2021-22 NHL season.
According to Bovada, Eichel is favored to play his first game of the upcoming season with the Sabres this year at +250 odds. It’s an interesting scenario, especially because it means that the two sides will either work things out or there isn’t a single team willing to pay Buffalo’s price for him at the moment.
Regardless of what happens, it’s clear that Eichel will need surgery before he plays for any team — be that the Sabres or otherwise. What remains to be seen is whether that’ll be the surgery that the player wants or the one that the team is encouraging. At the end of the day, the choice is Eichel’s and if he was going to be pressured by the Sabres, he likely would’ve gotten their surgery choice by now. Regardless, even if he plays for Buffalo this year doesn’t mean that he won’t get traded. There’s still plenty of time before the trade deadline, meaning that the Eichel situation is likely far from over.
Which Team Will Jack Eichel Play His First Game For in 2021-22?
Odds via Bovada as of Friday, October 1
- Buffalo Sabres (+250)
- Los Angeles Kings (+450)
- New York Rangers (+600)
- Vegas Golden Knights (+600)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (+800)
- Anaheim Ducks (+800)
- Montreal Canadiens (+800)
- Minnesota Wild (+1200)
- Boston Bruins (+1200)
- Dallas Stars (+1600)
- Philadelphia Flyers (+2500)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (+3000)
- Seattle Kraken (+3000)
Eichel to the Kings?
If Jack Eichel doesn’t play his first game of the year with the Sabres, it looks like it could be with the Los Angeles Kings (+450). Ever since the whole situation began, the Kings have been rumored to be one of the top landing spots for the former Sabres captain. For starters, it’s hard to find a team with a deeper prospect pool than what Los Angeles has in its backyard. If Buffalo is looking for a specific type of prospect, chances are that the Kings have. Los Angeles reportedly doesn’t want to give up too many of their top prospects, but one of their A-tier ones plus a few from the B-tier could be enough to get the job done.
Secondly, Jack Eichel is young enough (24 years old) to fit in with the Kings’ youthful core that’s slowly coming up. Anze Kopitar is getting up there in age and having Eichel replace him at center would definitely soften the blow. Besides, Los Angeles is an exciting city for a young player like him and getting out of Buffalo for a change in scenery might be enough to get his career back on track.
New York Rangers Jacket Eichel Odds
Just like the Kings, the New York Rangers have been one of the teams rumored to be in on Jack Eichel from the begging. Now, according to Bovada, they’re tied with the Vegas Golden Knights as the center’s third-likeliest destination this year.
Rumors have swirled over the last several months that the Rangers and Sabres were discussing a potential trade. It got to the point where New York fans bought a billboard to urge a deal. The Rangers may have to move a player like Ryan Strome to Buffalo since they lack the top prospects that teams like the Kings have, however, it’s certainly worth it if Eichel can return to form. He’s been nearly a point-per-game player throughout his career and, if healthy, could take the Rangers to the next level. Besides, playing for a big-market team like New York would be tremendous for his brand.