With tensions seemingly coming to a head, the Buffalo Sabres and captain Jack Eichel appear to be on completely opposite sides when it comes to Eichel’s health. While the 24-year-old was seen skating in Boston among other NHL players recently while sporting the Sabres’ royal blue, it seems nearly impossible that he’ll still be a member of the Sabres when October rolls around.
Eichel (and his camp) and the Sabres appear to be simply too far apart for a peaceful resolution, and I cannot for the life of me imagine a way that he’s back with the team when the season roll around and everything is fine and dandy. Too much has happened; no matter how things get settled in the end - and they will, one way or the other - it’s just not realistic to anticipate an amicable result.
Can you imagine Eichel still being the captain of this team when training camp comes? Trying to foster a sense of camaraderie in a locker room would be incredibly difficult for the Sabres if your big-name player clearly wants - and has wanted - out, and if the two sides are that far apart.
So what are the options for the Sabres and Eichel in this situation? It’s now been a few weeks and we’ve still seen no resolution, but with training camp still a month and change out, it’s likely that something has to give sooner rather than later.
The first, and perhaps most unlikely, would be for the Sabres to allow Eichel to have the surgery he wants. While the Artificial Disc Replacement surgery has an uncertain recovery period, he could still be back in game shape sooner rather than later. This would leave the option of staying in Buffalo open, but let’s be realistic: it isn’t happening.
Since Eichel is still under contract, the Sabres can hold tight to their position. If Eichel refuses to show up for training camp, he would likely be suspended. At that point, he would either be forced to sit out the season, or Buffalo could continue to try to work out a deal for him. If he does show up for training camp & doesn’t pass his physical, the team could put him on IR.
And yet still, the most likely option: a trade. It’s the most lucrative for both sides, really. Eichel would almost certainly be able to get the surgery he wants and then get a fresh start on a new team. The Sabres would ideally get some key pieces in return, and they’d both be able to move on from this dramatic saga.
The question seemed to be more of a “when” than an “if” regarding a trade, and yet, it’s been several weeks and nothing. It’s certainly an interesting situation and one we’re all keeping an eye on - but I’m not holding my breath for anything to happen. Quite frankly, there’s just too much else going on in the world right now to be putting everything on hold waiting for this to be settled.