Representatives for Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel released a statement blaming the team for failing to trade the center ahead of free agency.
After Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams told reporters "we're in control of this process", Eichel's agents, Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli, wrote that "the process is not working" and Eichel is awaiting medical clearance to have the surgery he needs to be ready for the start of next season.
“What’s critically important to make sure is clear is that we’re in control of this process,” Adams said Thursday. “We have a player under contract. We don’t feel any pressure. If there’s a deal out there that we feel is the right thing for the Buffalo Sabres, that’s going to help us improve—whether that’s improve right away or improve down the road, those are all the things weigh—we’d be open to it. But we’re not in a position where we feel we’re just going to do something to do it. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Eichel is under contract in Buffalo through 2025-26.
Fish and Donatelli noted both the Sabres medical staff and Eichel's independent doctors required surgery, however, the agents claim Buffalo now disagrees with the procedure the center prefers.
Adams said the front office continues to have conversations with multiple teams about a deal for Eichel. However, he'll remain patient when it comes to moving the Sabres captain.
“I take the emotion out of it," Adams said. "We look at what is best for us moving forward, and if there’s something that makes sense, we’ll do it. But what I can’t say is, ‘It has to be this time or that time or any sort of pressure point.’ If it’s the right time and the right deal we'll do it. I feel very strongly about that.”
Eichel is still just 24 years old and should have a long career as a No. 1 center ahead of him once he gets healthy enough to return to the ice. Yet he played just 21 games in 2020-21 after finishing with fewer than 70 games played in three of his previous four seasons.
A $10 million average annual salary isn't easy to move in the best of circumstances, but the lack of medical treatment—to say nothing of a lack of urgency by the front office—only seems to delay the inevitable.
Eichel wants out of Buffalo, and he needs to be healthy to continue his career. His agents believe the Sabres are the reason neither issue has been resolved.