November 5 — Exploring the Eichel Exchange

On Tap For Today — Chicago at Winnipeg; 7:00 pm CDT; TSN3, NBCSCH | NY Rangers at Edmonton; 7:30 pm MDT; SNW, MSG+ | Nashville at Vancouver; 7:00 pm PDT; SNP, BSSO | Arizona at Anaheim; 7:00 pm PDT; ESPN+, HULU | New Jersey at Los Angeles; 7:30 pm PDT; ESPN+, HULU

Last Night’s News 📰

VEGAS HITS THE JACK-POT: We have a real, honest-to-goodness blockbuster! Jack Eichel’s saga with the Buffalo Sabres has finally come to an end, as the 25-year-old was shipped off to the Vegas Golden Knights for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and first- and third-round draft picks. We at Morning Skate may have a thought or two about this—more below!!

GABORIK RETIRES: Marion Gaborik has officially called it a career after 17 seasons in the NHL. Gaborik, who was the Minnesota Wild’s first-ever draft pick (3rd overall in 2000) and scored the Wild’s first goal in franchise history, last played during the 2017-18 season when he scored 21 points in 46 games between the LA Kings and Ottawa Senators.

FOUR THE FANS: Brock Nelson and Patrice Bergeron both scored four goals in wins on Thursday night for the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, respectively. The Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2, while the Bruins took down the Detroit Red Wings 5-1.

A 10 FROM THE RUSSIAN JUDGE: Alexander Ovechkin continues to be on one of the best starts of his career, scoring his 10th goal in Washington’s 10th game of the 2021-22 season. It was Ovechkin’s 740th of his career, bringing him one goal within tying Brett Hull (741) for fourth all-time.

WORLD JUNIOR SCHEDULE: On Thursday, the 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship schedule was released as the US looks for its first-ever back-to-back championships. Being held in Alberta, Canada, the 10-team tournament will run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at some of our favorite moments from this past week:

The Saga Is Over

Jack Eichel, formerly of the Buffalo Sabres (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

We would be remiss to mention the Jack Eichel trade as a favorite moment of the week. For months, fans have witnessed the drama unfold between the Sabres organization and Eichel. Thursday’s announcement finally puts this one to bed and we can all move on with our lives. Congrats to—well—honestly, all who were involved in this mess!

The Great Getzlaf

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ryan Getzlaf broke Teemu Selanne’s franchise record for career points this week when the Ducks faced the Montreal Canadiens. He has been part of the Anaheim organization since the 2005-06 season, appearing in 1,101 games. The next milestone for the 36-year-old is to reach 1,000 career points. He currently has 982.

Kirill Delivers the Thrill

Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 24-year-old signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 21, 2021, and while it may have taken nine games, he finally scored his first goal of the season. With three minutes left in overtime, Kaprisov buried the game-winner past Filip Gustavsson of the Ottawa Senators. Buckle up, Wild fans, the thrill is back.

The Eichel Blockbuster

A major blockbuster deal went down on Thursday and—what do you know—two teams covered by Morning Skate contributors were involved. Everyone has their own take on Jack Eichel heading to Vegas in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and a first- and third-round pick, but here you get the view from both sides—Ben Fisher’s got the Golden Knights’ side of things covered, while Jordan Jacklin looks at things from the Buffalo Sabres’ vantage point.

Vegas Golden Knights Perspective

A team based in Las Vegas has made a bold, risky trade and so, according to the laws of sports writing, I am required to tie in some lame, hackneyed gambling pun. Whether you prefer hearing that the Vegas Golden Knights “went all-in” or “went for broke” on Eichel, or even if you believe they “hit the jackpot,” one thing’s for sure: GM Kelly McCrimmon is staking his reputation on this deal to acquire the club’s new franchise center.

Jack Eichel, formerly of the Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While McCrimmon did well to minimize the damage done to the current, healthy Golden Knights lineup (only Peyton Krebs, with zero points through nine games, impacts their present group), he sent a nice collection of promising youth to Buffalo for an injured, expensive returning player. Krebs is only 20 years old and has major upside, while Alex Tuch is 25 and already has three seasons of 15 or more goals, and the first-rounder could wind up higher than expected given Vegas’ mediocre start.

That’s not to take away from the caliber of player that Eichel is when healthy or even to necessarily bash the trade. After all, these are the kind of swings you take when your team is in the mix of Stanley Cup contenders and looking to get over the hump. Still, it’s hard not to notice the outgoing assets exchanged for a guy who might offer–what—a couple of post-neck surgery regular-season games this year?

For the cap-strapped Golden Knights, this might be an ideal Nikita Kucherov situation: where Eichel and his $10 million cap hit would hold off on returning until rejoining a healthy, improved Vegas squad in time for the playoffs. Okay, now I’m talking myself into this one.

Buffalo Sabres Perspective

After months of lofty speculation and bickering between hockey journalists, the trade has finally been completed and both sides can move on. The Sabres needed to get back serious value in this deal, and they get that with Tuch, Krebs, and the picks included. Although they have lost their franchise center, they could get back enough value that it won’t sting as much as initially thought.

Alex Tuch, formerly of the Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams reflected on the move afterward, and it was pretty apparent that he was relieved this saga was over. During his press conference, he stated that “we’ve been working at this for a long time, daily. And obviously, we made this decision because we felt it was suitable for our organization.”

Looking back on Eichel’s time in Buffalo is tough to describe, but it goes back to the draft lottery. He started his tenure with the team by not being the prize of the 2015 Connor McDavid NHL Draft. When the organization dropped to second overall and lost to Edmonton in the draft lottery, it led to former general manager Tim Murray saying, “I’m disappointed for our fans.”

For the Sabres, the team is now challenged with staying above the salary cap floor, even after the acquisition of Johnny Boychuk’s contract from the New York Islanders. Buffalo can now move on from the past, focus on rebuilding for the future, and hope that everything that has happened in this last decade won’t be repeated.