The Vegas Golden Knights acquired center Jack Eichel in addition to a 2023 third-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday morning in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected), a 2023 third-round pick, center Peyton Krebs, and right-wing Alex Tuch.
The 25-year-old recorded two goals, 18 points, and a -9 rating in 21 games last season, missing a majority of it due to a herniated disk, which he wants to have surgery to repair. The Sabres organization wanted him to have a fusion, which caused Eichel, who has not played this season and will not until after he recovers from the surgery, to request a trade. The Golden Knights will allow him to have the surgery and Eichel will likely return after the 2022 Winter Olympics.
After months of speculation, the two finalists to land Eichel were the Golden Knights or the Calgary Flames, who reportedly offered one of center Sean Monahan or left-wing Matthew Tkachuk, a 2022 first-round pick, a former first-round pick, and two prospects for Eichel.
Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, expressed frustration in Buffalo as the Sabres currently has the NHL’s longest Stanley Cup Playoff drought at 10 seasons. The Sabres organization also wanted a change. He was named Sabres captain on October 3, 2018 but was stripped of it after he failed his physical test prior to the start of training camp.
He has recorded 139 goals, 355 points, and a -69 rating in 375 career NHL games. The best season of his career came in 2019-20, when he set career-highs in goals (36), assists (42), and plus-minus (+5). Eichel averaged 20:30 per game last season, including 3:27 on the power play.
With the addition of Eichel, the Golden Knights finally get their No. 1 center depth after the team has struggled to finish their plentiful opportunities in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past two seasons and have had William Karlsson in that spot for the most part of their first four seasons. The team has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of their first four seasons, including three third-round appearances and one Stanley Cup Final appearance in their inaugural campaign (which they lost).
The Golden Knights are currently missing Karlsson (broken foot, out about at least six weeks), left-wing Max Pacioretty (broken foot, week-to-week), and right-wing Mark Stone (lower-body, day-to-day). They have started the season 4-5-0 with an average of 2.22 goals-per game (29th in the NHL) and are the only team who has yet to score on the man advantage this season.
Without Eichel, the Sabres have been just fine as they are 5-3-1 and have averaged three goals-per-game (tied for 12th) and a 25% power-play efficiency (tied for seventh).
Over the offseason, which followed a campaign where they were the worst team in the NHL by six points, the Sabres traded right-wing Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen as they head into another rebuild. But after their hot start, they wanted immediate help.
Tuch, 25, has recorded 61 goals and 139 points in 255 career NHL games, including 18 goals and 35 points last season, with the Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild. He set career-highs in goals (20), assists (32), and points (52) in 74 games during the 2018-19 season in Vegas.
Krebs, 20, was the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Golden Knights and has yet to get on the scoresheet in nine games this season. He has just one assist in 13 career games.
By Harrison Brown