The talk about Jack Eichel has been shifting from the trade chatter to the focus on his health and how he needs to get surgery for his neck injury.
He failed his physical at the Buffalo Sabres’ training camp and was stripped of his captaincy on Thursday. His trade and future remain in an impasse all because the team and its franchise player remain at an impasse over surgery options. It has been mentioned that the forward is willing to go anywhere to facilitate a trade, but a huge issue remains when it come to his pending surgery.
Eichel favors having artificial disk replacement surgery. The Sabres are against him having the procedure because it has never been performed on an NHL player. However, the Sabres’ way means that a patient could have three surgeries in 20 years. This even prompted the NHL and Players’ Association to get involved, per TSN’s Darren Dreger. Which means, something needs to happen.
And Mike Harrington, the Sabres insider for the Buffalo News, has written a brilliant piece on how Eichel should just assume the risk and go have his surgery done.
“How can you break the logjam? It’s time for Ex-Captain Jack to take a bold step: Go have your surgery.
Yes, he’ll get suspended by the Sabres. But that might happen anyway when the season starts and Eichel isn’t available to play because he has rejected the club’s medical advice. Yes, he’ll lose his salary in that timeframe and he’ll be paying for a procedure to fix an injury that came during a game and not from some off-ice mishap. But if he is so sure this is the procedure that will get him back on the ice, he should go do it.”
We all know the Sabres don’t seem willing to lower their insane asking price. Eichel switched agents last month and is now represented by Brisson, who can make tough moves when necessary. Eichel is under contract through 2025-26 with a $10-million cap hit and GM Kevyn Adams is believed to be asking for a hefty return in exchange for his captain: he is reportedly seeking and not budging from his demand of the equivalent of four first-round picks, which could be anything from young, established roster players, A-level prospects, or actual first-round draft picks in the next two NHL drafts.
The Sabres aren’t going to terminate him, so they could cash in big if the surgery works and they present a healthy Eichel on the trade market.
“What they’re asking for is insane,” a Western Conference source told Harrington of the Sabres’ trade demands earlier this week. “I get that they’re trading Eichel, but what do they really expect if you don’t know if he can play?”
Harrington is however realistic and knows that the CBA is on the Sabres’ side.
“Why has Eichel not gone to a grievance? He will lose. What would likely happen if he took the Sabres to court? He would lose. The CBA is pretty clear in this area. The team took the second opinion Eichel received under advisement and then made its determination he should have fusion surgery.
“Eichel is not above the CBA. He’s in the players’ union. The rules apply to him, too.”
Interested teams are demanding clarity and Eichel surely wants to feel better with his neck. I wonder if he will dare listen to Harrington.