The Chicago hockey world was sent reeling a few days ago with the news of Brent Seabrook’s retirement.
What might that splash be? Trading for Buffalo Sabres captain and superstar forward Jack Eichel. While this may seem like an improbable scenario, the conversation has been re-awakened after Seabrook’s retirement.
Getting Jack Eichel in a ‘Hawks sweater would certainly be a massive help to the team. At only 24-years-old, Eichel has already become one of the faces of the Sabres franchise and is starting to close in on 400 career points. Imagining Eichel and Patrick Kane on the same team is certainly an amazing thought for Blackhawks fans.
However, is a trade for Jack Eichel something that General Manager Stan Bowman can realistically pull off? Since the Blackhawks placed Seabrook on LTIR instead of him officially retiring, it gives Chicago over $22 million in long-term salary relief (per CapFriendly).
This is good for Chicago, however, CapFriendly also notes that Seabrook’s cap hit will continue to count against the ‘Hawks since he isn’t officially retiring. With that money on the books, it would still mean that the Blackhawks would likely have to give up some very significant pieces in order to acquire Jack Eichel and his $10 million cap hit. This would simply not be worth it for the ‘Hawks.
In order for the Buffalo Sabres to even consider trading Eichel, they would likely be asking for a significant package in return. Both a first-round and a second-round pick would probably be a given. The Sabres would also likely want either Alex DeBrincat or Dylan Strome to try and fill some of the offensive gaps that Eichel would leave.
Additionally, Buffalo would probably want one or two top defensive players with some upside, someone who could eventually slide into their top-two alongside Rasmus Dahlin. This would be somebody like Adam Boqvist or Nicolas Beaudin (or both of them), among others. Keep in mind as well that Chicago would likely only get Eichel in the return package, and nothing else.
The Buffalo Sabres would basically hold all the cards in this scenario, and the asking price, even given the recent cap space the ‘Hawks got, is simply too much. There is no reason that Stan Bowman couldn’t acquire some decent talent in this upcoming offseason, either through trades or free agency. However, getting someone like Eichel is likely nothing more than a pipe dream.
Obviously, I would love to see Jack Eichel on the Blackhawks. He would be an incredible addition to the team and someone that could lead the ‘Hawks for years. However, Chicago’s young core has been playing much better than anyone expected this season. There is no reason to trade the rest of the team’s future for one player, no matter how good he may be.
This isn’t to say that the Sabres captain might not eventually be moved. Buffalo is in the middle of a horrendous season, and trade rumors surrounding Eichel have been swirling for a while now. However, if he does end up in a different city, I wouldn’t expect it to be in Chicago.