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Five teams that have the assets necessary to trade for Eichel

June 16, 2021, 5:13 PM ET [5 Comments]
Kevin Allen
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Who came to the Buffalo Sabres from the St. Louis in the Ryan O'Reilly trade? If you can't recall, don't beat yourself up because it's deal that Buffalo fans also want to forget.

On July 1, 2018, the Sabres gave up a future Conn Smythe Trophy winner for forwards Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson, a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

It turned out to be an underwhelming return.

Berglund played 23 games with Buffalo and now plays in Sweden. Sobotka spent an uneventful two seasons with Buffalo and now is in the Czech Republic. Thompson is still only 23, but he hasn't developed like the Sabres hoped he would. The Sabres dealt the second round pick.
They used the first round pick to select defenseman Ryan Johnson, the Minnesota college player who is probably one of their top five prospects.

Johnson is the best part of the deal for Buffalo. Meanwhile, O'Reilly has won a Stanley Cup and is regarded as one of the NHL's best two-way centers.

The Sabres need a much better deal for Jack Eichel than they received for O'Reilly. If they don't get a strong return for Eichel, it will set the team back another season or two. Here are the teams that either want, or need, Eichel the most:

1. Columbus Blue Jackets: Eichel's $10 million salary is a turn off for most teams, but the Blue Jackets like that the fact that Eichel is signed for another five seasons. Their difficulty in keeping players in Columbus is well documented. Seth Jones is the latest to tell them he wasn't planning on re-signing. The Blue Jackets also need a top line center. They have three first-round picks, including the No. 5 pick. They would probably give up two in the Eichel deal. The Sabres would probably be interested in goalie Elvis Merzlikins. Young Liam Foudy could be a Buffalo target. The Sabres certainly would be willing to give up players off their roster.

2. Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks need a No. 1 center and they could offer the No. 3 pick. Then it becomes a tug of war with Anaheim about whether they would give up prize youngsters Max Comtois or Jamie Drysdale or Trevor Zegras. Isac Lundestrom is a possibility. The Ducks would rather move a veteran like Rickard Rakell.

3. Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have a strong collection of prospects, plus the No. 8 pick. They have center prospects Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte or Rasmus Kupari who could be included in the deal. Defenseman Brock Faber or right wing Arthur Kaliyev would also be attractive to Buffalo. The Kings would be far more competitive with Anze Kopitar and Eichel as their top two centers

4. Minnesota Wild: Eichel instantly would become the team's No. 1 center, and they have wings to play with him. The Wild could offer prospect Marco Rossi or Matthew Boldy who was judged to be the No. 5 NHL prospect by TSN.ca. The Wild have the No. 21 pick in the upcoming draft. Probably they will offer defenseman Matt Dumba, 26, who has two years remaining on his contract. Defenseman Calen Addison is another possible Buffalo target.

5. New York Rangers: The Rangers have been looking for another top center for a couple of years. And, the fact they fired their president, GM and coach at the end of the season would suggest they want a different approach. A one-two center combination of Eichel and Mika Zibanejad would make them more competitive. The Rangers have the No. 15 pick, but the Sabres are going to want to talk about Nils Lindqvist, Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lefreniere, Vitalii Kravtsov and K'Andre Miller. Acquiring Eichel is going to hurt.
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