It seems like Buffalo Sabres Center Jack Eichel being unhappy in Buffalo has been circulating forever. But in reality, it really started last season when the former second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the same draft in which the Flyers selected both Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny in the first round, made it clear he was unhappy with “always losing”. Immediately rumors of Eichel wanting out of Buffalo started circulating, and as we know, any time a star is rumored to potentially be traded, the Philadelphia Flyers name is not too far behind. Jack Eichel is a great talent, there’s no denying that, but is everything that comes with Jack Eichel worth perusing for the Flyers at this point in time? I mean if Jack Eichel really wants out of Buffalo, shouldn’t he put a little more effort in his on-ice performance so far this season to get EVERY team doing everything it can in order to land him and get him out of Buffalo in the process? Let’s dive into the nitty gritty of what we know about Jack Eichel and what it would take to acquire him and then make a decision based on that shall we?
The 24-year old center Eichel is currently in his 6th NHL season. He’s played 14 games so far this season, scoring 2 goals and 13 points, but is a minus(-) 8. In his young career, Eichel has played 368 games scoring 139 goals and 350 points, which is just a shade under a point a game. He’s also a minus(-) 68 in his NHL career. Granted that’s while playing for a horrible Sabres team, but its safe to say that he will never be in the running for a Selke Trophy. Remember when Alain Vigneault scratched Travis Konecny because of the way he played without the puck? What do you think he’d do to Jack Eichel, murder him perhaps? But people will tell you to “forget Eichel’s defensive game, he’s a goal scorer”. Ok, well let’s take a closer look: Eichel’s best season scoring goals came in the 2019-20 season, where he scored 36 goals in 68 games, which by the way is the only season in his career where he finished with a positive plus / minus ratio with a plus(+) 5. The 4 seasons prior to that? Eichel averaged 25.25 goals per season. Heck the guy the Flyers selected 22 picks later, Travis Konecny has scored 24 goals each of the last 3 season and is a plus(14) for his career. Would you take 1.25 goals more per season as a team, while allowing an extra 12 goals per season on the other side of it? Probably not, right? But again, Eichel plays in Buffalo. But please remember what team the Flyers iced before last season. It wasn’t exactly spectacular. But Eichel is a center, which is always more valuable than a winger, I get it.
Buffalo did the right thing. They wanted to keep the centerpiece of their rebuild happy. So, in the summer of 2018, when Eichel’s Entry Level Contract expired, the powers that be in Buffalo signed Eichel to a MASSIVE 8 year, $80 million dollar contract, with an AAV of $10 million per season. Here’s the kicker: after next season (2022-23), there is a FULL No Movement Clause that comes into effect. By caparison, that guy who scores 1 goal less per season than Eichel, Travis Konecny, well he’s on a 6-year deal that brings with it an AAV of $5.5 million per season. Almost HALF of the cost of Eichel. You might be asking yourself: “Why is does this guy keep comparing Eichel to Konecny”? I’ll get to that in as second. Now in a cap world, $10 million AVV for a guy who averaged 25 goals a season and is under a point per game and is a career negative plus/minus player… Oufff, I don’t know but that seems like way too much for me. But Buffalo, who keeps doing Buffalo things, wanted to keep Eichel happy. So over and above the crazy contract, they decided they were going to surround him with “Elite” NHL talent.
With that in mind, the Sabres in 2018-19, fresh off the Eichel contract extension, traded for and then signed Jeff Skinner to a just as crazy 8-year, $72 million (AAV $9 million per season) contract to play with Eichel. While Skinner had a good first season with the Sabres scoring 40 goals in 82 games, he has regressed since. Last season, Skinner who mostly played along side Eichel scored 14 goals and 23 points in 59 games. This season, Skinner has yet to score and has 1 point in 14 games. The Sabres still wanting to keep Eichel happy when all these rumors of him wanting out started, went out and signed Taylor Hall to a 1-year $8 million deal so he could play alongside Eichel. So far? Well, Hall has 1 goal in 14 games. If you’re keeping track, that’s $27 million this season for a trio who has lit the lamp a total of 3 times combined in 14 games. So perhaps the “let’s keep Jack Eichel happy” isn’t the best way to go about your business if you want to win hockey games.
Now, if you listen to the rumors, in order for the Flyers to acquire Jack Eichel, it would cost them a package that would have to include the guy I keep comparing him too, Travis Konecny, a top 4 defenseman like a Myers or Sanhiem, a top prospect like Frost or York and a 1st round pick. And yet many of you would actually want the Flyers to make such a crazy move?!? Just look at the ramifications:
- You immediately handicap yourself forever cap wise;
- You trade away a guy who year after year scores 24 goals for a guy who scores 25 goals;
- Trade away a top 4 defenseman, which is an area you are looking to improve, not weaken it;
- You’re trading for a guy who has been given talented wingers to work with, and who hasn’t been able to get any of them going, and as a matter of fact have all regressed playing alongside him;
- With Couturier and Hayes, do you really need a top 2 center? Is Eichel good enough to surpass Coots or Hayes as a top 2 center on this team at this time?
- You would really anger me (DON’T DO IT);
When a player like Eichel becomes available, and I’m not saying he is, you owe it to yourself to make the call and see what they want in return, but unless the ask is dirt cheap and they are willing to take salary back and retain some of Eichel’s salary, you can’t do it. While Jack Eichel is a talented hockey player, there just is no fit in Philly for him. That Cap hit alone with other guys that will need to be signed soon is a no-no. The Flyers can’t take that many steps back by making this trade. Let that pipe dream go Flyers fans. The Flyers NEED to stay away from Jack Eichel.
Photos: SportsIllustrated.com; Hockey-reference.com;