On Thursday Jack Eichel was left out of the Buffalo lineup against New Jersey. Trade rumours are swirling once again. This ugly marriage has hit another speed bump. The Sabres and their marquee captain are in another untenable situation. Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this and unless things change drastically it won’t be the last. As much as he is beloved in Buffalo, Sabres fans have to ask themselves how much longer can this drag on?
Should the Sabres trade Eichel and risk more obscurity or is he a talent worth keeping? Alex Watson, Mike Laybourne, Brodie Cotnam and Joe Martini are to debate this. Expect opinions and lots of them- Buffalo fans look away!
Alex: Trade Him
King Jack as may well call himself has been both the best and worst element to this team. While there is no doubt he is the driving force behind a consistency poor Sabres team, his ego is becoming bigger than KeyBank Arena. In some ways, I understand his frustrations as despite adding Taylor Hall, very little has changed for his team. However, behind the scenes, he seems to be given a little too much control. Remember when he essentially had Dan Byslma fired back in 2017? True, he was at odds with many of the players, but Jack was allegedly the one who got him chopped.
Eichel is definitely an elite talent and his 337 points in only 354 games make this clear. I just feel that the Sabres are trying to cling to an impossible situation. There’s no question that he’s competitive and I admire that about him. His desire for cups will not come with Buffalo and making him all-powerful will only sink team morale. The Sabres are nowhere close to competing yet. A number of teams would offer up decent trade packages- so why prolong the inevitable? A disgruntled star gets a new start and Sabres… get to rebuild again! This is a union that needs to end but his new home will need to get a golden throne ready for his arrival.
Mike: Keep Him
This is less ‘should the Sabres trade Eichel?’, and more ‘should other teams trade for Eichel?’ As Jason Bourne said to Paz, “Look at what they make you give…”. Yes, Eichel would make a great addition to your team, but how much are you willing to give up? It ain’t exactly like the Sabres are desperate to shift him. Eichel is, after all, an elite player. If your GM is considering a trade, then your team already has the weaker hand in this game. Buffalo can command whatever it wants.
Trade for an elite player and you’re still taking a hit somewhere on the ice. Trading for lesser players, prospects and picks and you’re trading away the team’s future. Maybe you get lucky, maybe you don’t. As a classic armchair GM, I wouldn’t risk it.
Joe: Keep Him
“Customization will cost you more, and probably sell for less.”-Me, normally relates to housing, cars or other expensive assets. I this case Buffalo has done everything they can to make Jack Eichel happy, and if they were to trade him I don’t think even a king’s ransom would be enough. Will Eichel and Jeff Skinner are the only real certainty the Sabers have going forward, both signed to the 2025-2026 season and for Skinner one more year, there is a lot of turnover that this roster can have to turn this around.
While you are hoping for a turnaround in free agency, what major difference is there in hoping that draft picks and prospects will turn out? Seems like two sides of the same sucky lottery ticket. Unless you are going to blow the whole thing up and trade Eichel, Skinner, Taylor Hall, Rasmus Dahlin, and trust that other teams scouting departments are better then your own (completely possible) or that your scouting department will be better in future years (probably not), why not tinker and make smaller moves.
Brodie: Keep Him
The old adage is whoever gets the best player in a trade wins the deal, so if we go with that axiom, by essentially any metric the Sabres lose. The reality is no individual player they’d get in exchange would match his talent. Few around the league do. So, perhaps, if they were fortunate, the pieces would add up to said value. However, as with anything, there are no guarantees.
They have some money coming off the books after this season, and the ability to ship out pieces for picks and prospects, but are anchored to several lofty contracts, including Jeff Skinner’s. All this is to say, franchise players don’t fall from the rafters, so the best bet is to do what they can to keep Eichel happy and shrewdly add to help improve the core. They have a few other key pieces in place like Rasmus Dahlin, and Dylan Cozens and it’s far easier to add at the periphery to support them, than blow it up and try to find similar talents. Teams will be looking to move guys ahead of the Seattle expansion draft after the season, so opportunities that may not have previously existed could be taken advantage of.
However, the unfortunate reality is, the Sabres have been attempting to do this for years, and come up short time, and time again. This begs the question, why should they be trusted to trade such an asset? Simple fact is, they can’t. So the organization needs to take a long hard look at itself and formulate some kind of realistic turnaround plan, as Eichel is getting tired of missing the playoffs every year, and they’d better do so soon, before their hand is forced as dealing a distressed asset would be the worst possible outcome for the franchise.