I’ve been avoiding this topic for weeks and my plan was to continue to avoid it until it inevitably goes away. But… then I heard Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek mention it on the 31 Thoughts Podcast and I figured, ok why the heck not. Let’s explore it, give it a real look. Does it actually make sense? Heck, is it even possible?
I’m sort of assuming that the Eichel talk is going to heat up more than it already has. -Jeff Marek
Now I’ve had a couple people tell me that might not happen until after the Expansion Draft. And I do think this, I think Vegas is sniffing around Eichel. -Elliote Friedman
Not a surprise at all. I don’t know how they do it. A) To get the cap space and B) To make the assets available to Buffalo to make it happen. -Marek
I do think they’re looking at this, I do. –Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast
As Marek suggests, to make it happen, the Golden Knights will have to do it in two parts. First, they’ll have to make the trade to acquire Jack Eichel, which will not be cheap, and second, they’ll have to maneuver their way back under the cap after adding his $10 million cap hit.
We’ll start with the easier of the two, which for the Golden Knights is getting the player himself out of Buffalo. Due to the public clarity which surrounds Eichel’s eagerness to depart, the trade price is actually going to be quite a bit lower than what it would otherwise be for a player of his caliber.
This certainly does not mean it will be cheap though. When they do move Eichel, the Sabres will be looking at a lengthy rebuild which means they’ll likely prefer either draft assets, prospects, or young players that will still be around when Buffalo is ready to win. This unfortunately is the place where the VGK system is least equipped.
As far as the draft, the Golden Knights hold the 30th (1st round) and 36th (NJD’s 2nd round) picks in the 2021 Draft. They also have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks for every subsequent Draft.
The prospect pool still holds a few valuable pieces. Peyton Krebs is at the top of the list as an NHL-ready player who has a chance to be a top-line center. Brendan Brisson, Vegas’ 2020 1st rounder, is still a bit away from cracking the NHL, but he’s a bonafide scorer who could become a power play weapon. Behind those two would be defenseman Kaedan Korczak, a 2019 2nd round pick. He’s certainly on the brink of being NHL ready and projects to be a middle-pair d-man with the possibility to be even more. Finally, a pair of Russian forwards may hold some value. Pavel Dorofeyev and Ivan Morozov are both looking like NHL-level talents and could be seen as attractive to the Sabres.
Then, there’s the young crop of NHLers. The lead dogs in this group are Alex Tuch, who is from the northern New York area, and Shea Theodore who is about to turn 26 and has finished 6th in back-to-back Norris votes. Both are locked up under manageable contracts and each would instantly become one of the best players on the Sabres roster if dealt for Eichel. Nic Roy, Keegan Kolesar, Nic Hague, and Zach Whitecloud would be the final group that could make sense, but none hold massive value and each would represent another piece the Golden Knights have to replace if included.
In the end, it probably costs a piece from each of the groups or multiple picks and a prospect. So, here are a few ideas…