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Throwing around the idea of an Eichel trade

June 7, 2021, 8:06 PM ET [11 Comments]
John Gove
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The 2021 NHL offseason possesses the potential of being one to remember. A mixture of the looming expansion draft, organizations more comfortable in the flat-cap world, and a handful of teams looking to embark on profound change should lead to a lot of player movement throughout the summer.

Though many high-end players might find themselves a part of the rumor mill, no potentially traded individual will receive as much attention as Buffalo’s Jack Eichel.

With Eichel and the Sabres in need of a fresh start, there will be no shortage of teams looking to acquire the 2015 second-overall pick’s services. Buffalo should also obtain a bountiful haul in return as well.

We could dive into all the reasons the Blues or any team, for that matter, would love to add a superstar caliber player such as Eichel to their roster. However, there is no point in doing so. Eichel is a franchise-altering athlete who could keep a team like St Louis’s Stanley Cup window open for longer than expected when healthy.

Yes, some concern regarding Eichel’s herniated disk in his neck and the surgery to repair it is warranted. Still, there is no argument that Doug Armstrong would leap at the opportunity to the 24-year-old center to St. Louis. The real question is whether the Blues have the means necessary to trade for a player of his caliber.

First, we must consider the package Buffalo will request in return. The Sabres will be in search of youth and draft picks. Not necessarily prospects, as they hope to have a somewhat speedy progression, but young players not yet in the prime of their careers. For St. Louis, the individuals that immediately come to mind are Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Vince Dunn, and maybe Klim Kostin.

Although the Blues would not mind parting with some of these pieces, it is unclear how many—the only young players on the above list that demonstrate an actual projection towards success in Kyrou. One could imagine that Buffalo will need him a part of any package worth considering. Now St. Louis would likely include Dunn, who does not seem to be meeting the team’s expectations. However, Dunn’s value is not going to be substantial. Could a package such as Kyrou, Dunn, a 2021 first-rounder, and a second or third-round pick get the job done?

With Buffalo’s trade history, you honestly never know. Still, the likelihood that another team enters the fold with a more enticing offer is relatively high. St. Louis might have to go the extra mile and add in a piece like Thomas as well. Then you have to question whether the Blues are beginning to wager too much of their future on one asset. Yes, one major asset, but still just one player, and an expensive one at that.
Of course, money is another major factor. Set to count for $10 million against the cap until 2026, Eichel brings substantial financial commitment. Now, is he worth it? If he can fully recover, certainly. Still, St. Louis would find itself in a tough spot financially. They would need to find a way to shed salary in an Eichel deal, which will not be simple.

The obvious candidate for such a move is Vladimir Tarasenko. With just two years left of his deal, Buffalo might be willing to absorb his cap-hit, considering all of the promising youth coming along as well. Unfortunately, similar to every other player St. Louis might like to shed, Tarasenko has a no-trade clause. Now, Tarasenko might be open to a change of scenery. However, it is unlikely that he waives the NTC to go to the Sabres. Truthfully, nobody is willingly heading into that mess right now.

In reality, even though some view the Blue as a dark horse candidate, it is difficult to picture them landing Jack Eichel. St. Louis might be able to put together a respectable offer; however, another team in a better position might be able to offer more. Unfortunately, the Blues don’t really have the assets to get in a bidding war.

Though the idea of Eichel in St. Louis sounds exciting, the Blues will need to look elsewhere to provide that roster resurgence next season.
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