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Is There a Path Forward for Eichel and the Sabres?


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I usually lean toward the optimistic side of things, but I also like to think that I’m a realist.  What I’m struggling with right now is finding a viable way forward for this Jack Eichel version of the Buffalo Sabres.

They are not making the playoffs this season.  They have not taken a step forward.  The blame can be placed in a number of areas, but the fact remains, it’s not working and has not been working for a long, long time.  Even individually, this has been a disappointing season for Eichel on the ice.  This season feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  

Rumors of Jack Eichel’s unhappiness have been consistently floating around for, what, 2 years?  How much longer until he demands a trade?

Eichel also has a significant career crossroads inching closer.  In the summer of 2022, he has a NMC that kicks in.  This is significant because after that point, he would have all the power in any trade scenario.  He would be able to decide if and where he goes, thereby significantly reducing his potential trade return.  

This upcoming crossroads will probably necessitate difficult conversations and decisions inside the Sabres FO.  If, as a result of these conversations, they don’t think Eichel is going to be in it for the long haul, they should trade him sooner rather than later.  

I’m not purposely trying to be a downer, but this is just feeling inevitable at this point.  I don’t WANT to trade Eichel, but this situation feels like a snowball rolling downhill.  Getting bigger and picking up momentum until it finally hits the bottom.

Edited by Curt
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  • Curt changed the title to Is There a Path Forward for Eichel and the Sabres?

It's hard to imagine a trade where we get the better end of the deal, if it involves sending Eichel off the team.

For that reason, I would continue to try to make it work with Jack, but by bringing in an experienced HC.  I'd go try to hire Claude Julien this afternoon.  Julien, Boudreau, Gallant.  All could work.

The Ralph experiment is beyond over and the sooner he is replaced, the sooner we can try to move forward with a new solution to our problems. 

 

 

Edited by Kruppstahl
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I want solutions that include Jack but if the whining ( if it exists ) continues with Jack and his things better improve here or I’ll take my toys and leave routine, all bets are off. This team needs a leader who bears down and helps pull his teammates up with him not a child. The moping and stick breaking is not leadership. Hopefully he grows through this.

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IMHO, the path forward is:

- Do not trade Eichel

- Improve the goaltending

- Figure out by the end of this year whether better coaching is needed and if so hire someone like Boudreau

- Improve the rest of the roster around Eichel, either via internal development or opportunistic pickups from around the league.  E.g. Vinny Trochek was available last year for a pretty reasonable price and he would've been a much better addition at 2C than Staal has been. 

The bones of a good team are already here -- Eichel, Reino, VO, Dahlin, Risto, young talent at F and D, and maybe Ullmark as part of a goalie tandem.  Eichel is by far the hardest piece to find.  What they should NOT do is panic, trade him and start over.

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IMO the path forward HAS to include a bonafide 2C, 1B goalie, and it includes moving Skinner out.  I'm pretty well convinced Skinner is not on the same page as the rest of the team.  I also think there is room in the path forward for Taylor Hall.

I don't think it needs to be any more than that.  Although 2C and 1B goalie is a pretty substantial get.

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Agree with the feeling of not trading your best player and one of the best in the league. Realistically Eichel probably determines that. If things don't change significantly before the MMC kicks in it may come down to a trade. First, is Eichel sold on RK? Second can KA make a few more moves to get this team into competition. Has to happen by this time next year or I'm afraid the player will make the decision for us.

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Thanks for the responses everyone.  I feel like you are misunderstanding me slightly though.  For me, the question isn’t, “should the team trade Jack?”, it’s “is it inevitable that Jack asks for a trade?”

Yeah, the easy answer is some combination of:

(1) Don’t trade Jack

(2) Get a better goalie

(3) Get a better 2C

(4) Get a better coach

(5) Win more hockey games

I think most people agree that this sounds great.  It’s not a question of what the team needs to improve.  That’s obvious to an extent.

However, I’m feeling like not enough of these things are going to happen before Jack gets completed fed up.  I feel like his trade request is an inevitability.  There isn’t enough runway left to get off the ground.

Edited by Curt
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The path forward for the Sabres needs to include Jack.

He should not be traded.

I am not sure what the problem is exactly, but the talent is not really an issue anymore.  So, that leaves us with coaching.  I think RaKru is a good coach, but maybe not for this group of players.  It's hard to say.

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3 hours ago, Curt said:

Thanks for the responses everyone.  I feel like you are misunderstanding me slightly though.  For me, the question isn’t, “should the team trade Jack?”, it’s “is it inevitable that Jack asks for a trade?”

Yeah, the easy answer is some combination of:

(1) Don’t trade Jack

(2) Get a better goalie

(3) Get a better 2C

(4) Get a better coach

(5) Win more hockey games

I think most people agree that this sounds great.  It’s not a question of what the team needs to improve.  That’s obvious to an extent.

However, I’m feeling like not enough of these things are going to happen before Jack gets completed fed up.  I feel like his trade request is an inevitability.  There isn’t enough runway left to get off the ground.

I understood.  My reply is what I think it would take to provide a team that Jack would want to stick with.  One good offseason can do it.  I'm not sure this team management is the right one to pull it off though.

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4 hours ago, nfreeman said:

The bones of a good team are already here -- Eichel, Reino, VO, Dahlin, Risto, young talent at F and D, and maybe Ullmark as part of a goalie tandem.  Eichel is by far the hardest piece to find.  What they should NOT do is panic, trade him and start over.

If those are the bones of a good team I think we have osteoporosis. 

I'm tired of excuses and losing with the same core. I want a new culture and I think the only way to get that is to tear it all down and start again building around unspoiled new talent. 

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I'd prefer Jack stays, but the $7.5 million bonus due July 1st puts his future in Buffalo in grave jeopardy.  If I'm wrong, I would still risk taking the "C" away from him and giving it to a better leader...whoever that may be.  

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21 minutes ago, Carmel Corn said:

I'd prefer Jack stays, but the $7.5 million bonus due July 1st puts his future in Buffalo in grave jeopardy.  If I'm wrong, I would still risk taking the "C" away from him and giving it to a better leader...whoever that may be.  

Jack is not due $7.5M on July 1st 2021.  He makes all $10M in regular scheduled paychecks next season.

I think removing the C from Eichel is the type of public embarrassment that would be sure to push him towards demanding a trade.

Edited by Curt
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I'm not married to either side of the topic.  If Jack is hurt and when he gets over his injury, he turns back into what he was last year (or better), do whatever you can to keep him.

On the other hand, if you have a legit offer for him that is really something good, I'll listen and maybe do it.

I know that I'm not taking either side of things, but that is the way I see it....you 'never say never' and consider all things put in front of you. "it depends...."

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2 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

If those are the bones of a good team I think we have osteoporosis. 

I'm tired of excuses and losing with the same core. I want a new culture and I think the only way to get that is to tear it all down and start again building around unspoiled new talent. 

I get the frustration, but I think a teardown, like the tank, is much more likely to result in another generation in the dumpster than in a positive outcome.  What’s needed is patient and prudent addition of a few key pieces, and, more importantly, for the right guys to be in place to make and execute the decisions.  

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7 hours ago, Curt said:

Thanks for the responses everyone.  I feel like you are misunderstanding me slightly though.  For me, the question isn’t, “should the team trade Jack?”, it’s “is it inevitable that Jack asks for a trade?”

Yeah, the easy answer is some combination of:

(1) Don’t trade Jack

(2) Get a better goalie

(3) Get a better 2C

(4) Get a better coach

(5) Win more hockey games

I think most people agree that this sounds great.  It’s not a question of what the team needs to improve.  That’s obvious to an extent.

However, I’m feeling like not enough of these things are going to happen before Jack gets completed fed up.  I feel like his trade request is an inevitability.  There isn’t enough runway left to get off the ground.

 

3 hours ago, Weave said:

I understood.  My reply is what I think it would take to provide a team that Jack would want to stick with.  One good offseason can do it.  I'm not sure this team management is the right one to pull it off though.

And this is what makes it so tricky. I think Jack requests out after next season, when he was much more power. So, the Sabres can't let it get to that point or they are screwed. Like @Curtsaid, serious conversations may need to be had - if they decline to move Jack this summer when they'd get the greatest return, not only do they need to make all the changes outlined in one offseason, they have to be successful, and they have to be sure that's all enough to convince Jack. 

If we keep Jack this summer, and don't improve, I think it's bottom of the well stuff summer 2022. 

Edited by Thorny
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We all thought Hall was a guarantee of some form of this and it has not been. A big part of me believed losing Hall this summer all but guaranteed disappointment from Jack/great difficulty improving next year - and will we keep him? Do we even want to? 

If we finish this year around where we are now, at the bottom of the league, how likely is it a GM can turn that around into a playoff team in one offseason? This is why we talked so much about the need to improve this year regardless of making the playoffs. It was so crucial to take big steps forward.

This has been a disaster so far, make no mistake. 

It's also a big part of why I cringe when people talk about "selling everything off" and punting the season already. The Sabres still have 38 of 56 games left. It doesn't look like playoffs are possible at this point, but there's damn sure enough time to straighten course.

Something like that should really matter. It's ironic after all this time but what we need is a "heroic run to 9th". 

Edited by Thorny
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Do not trade Eichel. He is only 24. Even if it takes 2 more years to find or develop the right players/coach combo he will still be in his prime when they are ready to contend

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1 minute ago, Norcal said:

Do not trade Eichel. He is only 24. Even if it takes 2 more years to find or develop the right players/coach combo he will still be in his prime when they are ready to contend

I don’t think Eichel will make it two more years.  He’ll be asking out by then.

The real question is not “should they trade Eichel?”.  The question is “can this team get good before Eichel demands out?”

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5 minutes ago, Curt said:

I don’t think Eichel will make it two more years.  He’ll be asking out by then.

The real question is not “should they trade Eichel?”.  The question is “can this team get good before Eichel demands out?”

They own his rights. Star players are given too much say on contracts that are guaranteed by the owners.

Not saying he won't be moved but if I'm the Sabres I'm in no hurry at that point, especially if he's just moping around acting like a little B.

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8 minutes ago, Norcal said:

They own his rights. Star players are given too much say on contracts that are guaranteed by the owners.

Not saying he won't be moved but if I'm the Sabres I'm in no hurry at that point, especially if he's just moping around acting like a little B.

Just being realistic.  We can discuss the ideological right/wrong of players demanding trades, but in practice it does happen.

They can tell Eichel to shut up and play, but having an unhappy star captain mopping around is going to do nothing but hurt the team.  It’s counter productive.

And after summer 2021, if they want to move Eichel, he gets to decide where he goes.  That’s where the potential motivation for hurrying comes into play.

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Just now, Curt said:

Just being realistic.  We can discuss the ideological right/wrong of players demanding trades, but in practice it does happen.

They can tell Eichel to shut up and play, but having an unhappy star captain mopping around is going to do nothing but hurt the team.  It’s counter productive.

And after summer 2021, if they want to move Eichel, he gets to decide where he goes.  That’s where the potential motivation for hurrying comes into play.

I know it happens and that my opinion is in the minority when it comes to how to handle it. 

I guess I'm just not ready to give up on the player and without inside knowledge of his true feelings about the situation I wouldn't trade him. 

Ultimately I want to see Jack win in Sabres blue n gold!

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