Franchise players are rarely on the trade block. Should the Habs capitalize on this opportunity?
With most of the big-name free agents off the market, the NHL offseason has become much quieter than it was last week. There is, however, one storyline that has yet to be resolved, and that is the Jack Eichel saga.
It is no secret that the Buffalo Sabres have been looking to trade their captain Jack Eichel. Despite putting up elite stats every season, Eichel has yet to see a playoff round, as Buffalo has finished in the bottom half of the league for the past five seasons. While Jack hasn’t publicly requested a trade, it is clear that he is frustrated with the organization.
The Habs were originally one of the frontrunners to land Eichel, however, it was later announced that they were supposedly out of the running. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, as many other teams have been pitching for the Buffalo captain, however, the Sabres have been rejecting the offers. If things keep going as they are, Jack Eichel might not be traded at all.
Buffalo’s asking price is clearly higher than most teams are willing to go. This begs the question: Should Marc Bergevin continue to pursue Jack Eichel?
The easy answer would be yes. Eichel is a franchise centerman, and the Habs are in desperate need of a centerman. Jack currently has 355 points in 375 games, and his career-high came in the 2019-20 season, where he put up 78 points in just 68 games. Having an elite centerman available seems like a no-brainer for the Habs.
Unfortunately, there are a few downsides. Firstly, Eichel holds a massive contract worth 10 million dollars each year. Add that on top of Price’s contract, and Montreal will be in cap hell for the next few seasons. Secondly, Eichel is injury-prone, only playing in 21 games last season due to neck issues. This could be a problem in the long run.
What would the Habs have to give up? My guess would be a top prospect, one or two top-six forwards, and a first-round draft pick. Which Habs players/prospects could fill these spots? Your guess is as good as mine, but if Bergevin can find the pieces needed to acquire Eichel, I think the risk is worth it. With Eichel, the good outweighs the bad.
With that being said, not landing Eichel wouldn’t be the end of the world either, as the Habs have also been linked to Arizona centerman Christian Dvorak. While Dvorak isn’t the elite player that Eichel is, he does have a lot of potential, scoring 17 goals and 31 points in just 56 games last season. He is also on a team-friendly contract, making just over 4 million per year until the 2024-25 season.
I’d be happy with both players. Obviously, Eichel is the more elite player, however, Dvorak has a lot of upsides as well. It is all in the hands of Marc Bergevin now.