With the NHL season underway, it appears the Buffalo Sabres might be inching closer to working out a deal for disgruntled forward Jack Eichel.
ESPN's Emily Kaplan recently reported on The Point that the NHL and NHL Players Association have intervened to "push things along" between Eichel and the Sabres. Last Thursday, there was "serious optimism" that a trade was imminent, but things "went quiet" on Friday.
As of now, five teams are still in on Eichel, Kaplan adds. Each of those teams have agreed the former Sabres captain will get the artificial disk replacement surgery he desires instead of the neck fusion surgery that Buffalo believes is the best option.
Eichel failed his physical last month and was also stripped of his captaincy amid the ongoing dispute between himself and the Sabres on how to handle his herniated disk injury.
The 24-year-old hinted he wanted out of Buffalo in his 2020-21 season-ending media availability, saying he would be willing to play for another franchise.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman (via The Daily Goat Horn) reported in September that the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers were interested in Eichel. However, the Rangers might be out on the Massachusetts native after giving Mika Zibanejad an eight-year contract extension on Sunday.
The Sabres drafted Eichel second overall in 2015. He has tallied 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 games. Buffalo has not qualified for the postseason once since the 24-year-old was drafted.
Eichel was supposed to be a centerpiece of the Sabres' rebuild after signing an eight-year, $80 million contract extension before the 2017-18 season. With the Boston University product on his way out the door, Buffalo could remain in turmoil for the foreseeable future.