"There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s get this part out of the way first: after talking with numerous sources in recent days, it doesn’t appear that the Blue Jackets—at least as of today—are in hot pursuit of Eichel, one of the premier centers in the league.
"Has Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen had conversations with his counterpart in Buffalo, Kevyn Adams? Yes. That’s what high-ranking executives call 'due diligence.' Earlier this week, Kekalainen said he spoke with 'six or seven' GMs in a single day."
Eichel, 24, has 139 goals and 216 assists in six seasons for the Sabres, who selected the forward with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
Eichel only played 21 games this year, posting two goals and 16 assists for a Sabres team that finished with the fewest points in the NHL. His last game was on March 7.
The Sabres announced on April 14 that he would miss the remainder of the season with a herniated disc in his neck.
Trade rumors circulated around Eichel as the Sabres floundered, and the young star expressed his frustration with the organization in May while keeping the door open for a potential fresh start elsewhere.
Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News provided the remarks:
"For sure, I would say I've been a bit upset about the way things have been handled since I've been hurt. I would be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. So yeah, I think there's been a bit of a disconnect I think from the organization and myself. It's been tough at times. But right now, for me, I think the most important thing is just trying to get healthy and figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that might be."
Of note, Eichel wishes to have surgery to handle his ailment, while the Sabres believe that surgery should be a last resort, per Lysowski.
The Blue Jackets have a lot of questions to ponder after finishing last in the Central Division with 48 points. It was a decidedly disappointing result for a team that had made the playoffs each of the past four years, and now Columbus must regroup. Of note, defenseman Seth Jones appears on his way out after he informed the team that he won't sign a contract extension, per Portzline.
Eichel doesn't figure to be in the Blue Jackets' picture for now, but his contract (five years remaining on an eight-year, $80 million deal) would certainly play a factor for any team willing to acquire him. Still, Eichel is a fantastic point scorer when healthy, notably racking up 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games in 2019-20.