Eichel to Columbus? I've heard crazier things...I guess
I'm going to start by saying that I think this is very, very unlikely to happen. Players the caliber of Eichel don't get traded often and, Buffalo may be gun-shy to trading a top line center (see O'Reilly trade). But if it were a possibility...
As early as September 2020, Eichel was linked to trade rumors with the possibility of landing in Columbus. That talk largely discussed the possibility of PLD heading to Buffalo. That ship has since sailed to Winnipeg.
Now the CBJ are clearly looking toward next season, signing prospects, and preparing for the draft. Speaking of the draft, it now looks like Columbus will have a top-5 pick along with 2 other 1st-round picks. The Tampa and Toronto picks will most certainly be late, but 1st rounders none the less.
Is Columbus wanting to rebuild or reload?
What does a REBUILD look like and who would want to be a part of it? If you are Jones, Werenski, Merzlikins or Laine do you want to sign with a team trying to build through the draft? The easy answer is that they don't have a choice in 2022. But beyond that, the answer would be 'No'. While Laine will need a new contract this summer the others get another year in Columbus to think about it.
I think significant changes are coming, certainly to the head coaching position, but maybe to the GM position as well. If Jarmo cannot amicably sign Laine to a contract that keeps him in Columbus for more than the next two years, or has negotiations blow up like they did with RyJo and PLD, we may see a new GM.
Alternatively, a rebuild may mean trading Laine, a goaltender, Domi and possibly one (or both) of Zach and Seth. My guess would be that the CBJ would be looking for prospects or high draft picks in return. It would be counterproductive to trade any of these players for current NHL roster players. This would be more of a 5-year plan, which isn't a fun process.
Is a RELOAD preferable? The goal of either plan is to be able to sustain a long-term winning culture. Selling out for one run is never preferable and there are mixed feelings about how that went.
A reload could mean packaging some NHL roster players along with draft picks to land better individual NHL roster players. This may feel a bit like selling out to make the playoffs, but with a longer-term contract like Eichel's, it feels like a move to stabilize the team.
According to CapFriendly (https://www.capfriendly.com/players/jack-eichel) Eichel's NMC (no-movement-clause) kicks in for the 2022-2023 season, concurrently with a $7.5M bonus at the beginning of that season (his salary would be $2.5M that season - total cap hit of $10M). This summer, or by the next trade deadline, would be an ideal time for Buffalo to move him, if they decide to go that route.
If I'm Buffalo the asking price would be high. Possible questions that Sabres GM Adams may be asking himself:
1. Do I have a franchise goalie, or at least a playoff caliber goalie? And which CBJ goalie makes the most sense in Buffalo?
2. If I'm swinging for the fences, do I want Seth Jones or Zach Werenski?
3. How much value does Texier have? Or would I rather have 1st round draft picks?
4. Am I targeting multiple high-end prospects in this draft? Should I get a second top-five pick, or would I want 2 lower 1st round picks?
As I answer those questions, I formulate a trade scenario:
TOR - 1st Round Pick
This would be nothing short of a blockbuster. Some will feel this is one-sided, both sides will certainly have an opinion. The test of how to balance a trade usually results in fans on both sides not liking the trade.
No one in Columbus wants to see Seth leave. Early indications are that he may be the next CBJ captain. Is Eichel/Dahlin too much to give up for this return? Maybe.
Make your suggestion for an Eichel-to-Columbus trade in the comments.
Good Luck and GO JACKETS!