Editor's Note: Eichel has since been traded to the Golden Knights.
After trudging through several months more of this nonsense than anybody wanted or needed, a merciful end to the Jack Eichel trade saga appears to finally be drawing near, and it's the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights battling it out for the right to play hero.
Tuesday night during the network's NHL broadcast, ESPN's Emily Kaplan said that the closing of an Eichel deal has reached "the one-yard line," implying a deal is likely imminent while noting that Vegas and Calgary are the finalists to land the former Buffalo Sabres captain.
If that tasty little tidbit wasn't enough to get the engine revved up, ESPN and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes dropped an absolute bomb on Wednesday night, reporting that coveted two-way stud Matthew Tkachuk is being offered to Buffalo in a package.
You now have my attention.
For all asking, my understanding is the @NHLFlames have Tkachuk ( who is a future potential captain) an upcoming 1 Rd pick, a former 1st Rd pick, and 2 prospects in the Eichel sweepstakes with the @BuffaloSabres . @espn @NHLNetwork #HockeyTwitter .
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) November 3, 2021
Any deal involving Tkachuk — let alone the other draft picks and assets that would be involved — should essentially be a no-brainer for the Sabres. As good as potential Golden Knights trade chips Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch and whoever else are, Tkachuk has franchise-altering potential and would be an absolute haul for GM Kevyn Adams if he is able to get that done, especially considering the position of no leverage Buffalo's been operating from since basically the start.
So why isn't Buffalo jumping all over this offer as quickly as humanly possible? There are a few potential roadblocks to be sorted out still, including how much salary the Sabres would potentially retain in a deal, and what else on top of Eichel will go the other way to make the financials work.
It's also highly likely that talks are going on right now between Tkachuk's camp and the Sabres regarding a possible long-term extension, which won't be easy to get done and is probably a deal-breaker for Buffalo as Tkachuk becomes a restricted free agent this summer.
The reason for the hold-up in any potential deal here apparently won't have to do with Eichel's lingering neck injury, as Kaplan reported that both Calgary and Vegas — along with "most of the teams that Jack Eichel’s camp has spoken to" throughout the process — are cool with him getting his preferred "disc replacement" surgery rather than the "fusion" surgery the Sabres have been relentlessly pushing for.
Here’s the latest on Jack Eichel.
Multiple sources tell ESPN it’s down to Calgary and Vegas. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams is working hard to get it done, but neither team has met his asks yet.
Sources say both teams are OK with Eichel getting his preferred surgery. pic.twitter.com/uiJsGFeDmE
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) November 3, 2021
Here are Kaplan's full comments from Tuesday night on the situation, including his timetable for a return to the ice:
The saga now has two finalists. The Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights. There was a lot of work done over the weekend and today I was told a trade is at the one-yard line. Except, there are still some final details they’ve gotta figure out.
I’m told that Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams is working extremely hard on this, to get a trade done. However, he’s also been very firm in his stance and neither Calgary nor Vegas has met him on his full demands yet.
If you’re wondering if Jack’s surgery is part of the hold up, the answer is no. Both Calgary and Vegas, like most of the teams that Jack Eichel’s camp has spoken to through this process, are okay with him getting his preferred artificial disc replacement surgery instead of that fusion surgery.
The ‘ADR’ if he gets that surgery, it’s about six weeks until he can get back on the ice but a minimum three months until he’s cleared to play so that does take us until after the all-star break and likely eliminates him from Team USA at the 2022 Olympics.
I will note, however, that the artificial disc replacement surgery is about a two-month shorter timeline than if he were to get the fusion surgery.
The only thing more chaotic than this whole process has been would be Matthew Tkachuk in a Sabres uni.
We need this.
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