Nashville Predators: The Pros and Cons to a Jack Eichel Trade

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) takes to the ice before a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) takes to the ice before a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jack Eichel situation in Buffalo continues to get murkier and murkier by the day, and it’s something the Nashville Predators camp should at least be paying attention to.

The latest development involves Eichel’s agents, who came out on Friday and said that they expected him to be traded by the start of free agency this past Wednesday, per the Buffalo News .

This came shortly after Sabres’ GM Kevyn Adams stated that they were feeling no pressure to trade their superstar forward, who has voiced concerns in the past about a disconnect between him and the organization.

Oh boy, you might want to grab some popcorn for the rest of this saga.

There’s anticipation of Eichel being traded before the 2021-2022 season begins.  Even after having a down year this past season, it makes sense to give him a pass, given what a disaster the Sabres were.

A player of Eichel’s talent and caliber will undoubtedly have many other teams interested in acquiring him, especially with him being not far removed from his spectacular 2019-2020 campaign.

As for the Nashville Predators, I’m not going to say they must absolutely make a deal for him, or even be among the final suitors, but they must at least inquire about a potential trade.

The pros of an Eichel trade for the Nashville Predators

We don’t need many more reminders of how badly the Nashville Predators have struggled offensively for years.

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In Eichel, the Predators would have someone who has been more offensively prolific than any other player that they have had, which would likely provide a major jolt to the team.

At 24-years-old, Eichel would fit well with the Predators’ youth movement and be able to provide the team with many more years of high level play.  With his age, year-to-year progression, and the opportunity to play on a team that is not a complete and total mess, his best should be yet to come.

It is also more likely than not that the return that the Predators would have to offer would not be outrageous.

While the Predators would have to beat out other teams in order to make this happen, there’s probably going to be few offering many significant assets when Eichel’s camp is so heavily pressuring the Sabres to make a move.

It’s also not as if the Sabres are great at maximizing player value to begin with. Just look at the underwhelming return they got for Taylor Hall at the last trade deadline.

Why the Nashville Predators should be hesitant

Even though Eichel is a better forward than anyone on the Predators roster, he may not be as good for them.  They are known as a defense-first team that spends much time in their own zone, and guys such as Mikael Granlund and Matt Duchene have failed to play as advertised immediately upon joining the team.

Meanwhile someone like Kevin Fiala can break out not long after finding a new home. That’s a troubling trend for Nashville forwards, even the ones who are very solid elsewhere.

I fear the same could happen to Eichel, and if it does, the Predators are in a lot of trouble.  He is under contract for five more years at $10M per year, and knowing how the contracts to Duchene and Ryan Johansen have aged, they would be further handcuffed if Eichel flopped for them.

Speaking of which, if the Predators are to pull off a blockbuster trade for Eichel, they would highly prefer to include one of Johansen and Duchene in the deal.  But with their contracts and the direction the Sabres would prefer to go in, it is unlikely that they would want to acquire one of them in return.

Only make this deal under certain conditions

Let me start this section by saying that I honestly believe Eichel would be as good, if not better, on the Predators than he has been on the Sabres.  While he has more to do before entering the elite echelon of players in the league, if he can do what he has done on a highly dysfunctional Sabres team, he absolutely can succeed when surrounded by talents such as Flilip Forsberg, Eeli Tolvanen, and others.

But if this deal is to be made, the Predators cannot part with one of their major forward prospects. They have a logjam of up-and-coming youth on defense, and with veterans such as Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm sticking around for the future, they can much more easily afford to give up one of their defensemen.

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And as already mentioned, one of Johansen and Duchene almost has to go in a trade for Eichel. While the Sabres are not likely to want to acquire one of them, if they are, Predators General Manager David Poile should take them up on the offer.

Do not expect the Predators to be among the top teams in the running for Eichel, as other teams who are closer to Stanley Cup contention will be willing to offer more in return.  But if they make the deal happen, and do not overpay, the fans should be very excited.