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Jack Eichel is giving it one last go in trying to convince the Sabres to allow him to undergo a disk replacement on his neck, per ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.
Eichel, 24, has been out of action since March 2021 with a herniated disk in his neck, locked in a stalemate with Buffalo on the preferred surgery method. Eichel is steadfast in wanting to have a disk replacement, while Buffalo wants him to receive a fusion surgery. No NHL player has ever undergone the procedure Eichel wants, leaving the Sabres cautious of allowing their star center to have it done. Under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, teams have the final say on how to treat injuries, not the player.
Eichel was then expecting a trade to go down over the summer. That didn’t happen, but Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams made sure to punish Eichel in his own way. When Eichel expectedly failed his physical in September, Adams stripped Eichel of his captaincy.
“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres,” Adams said before the season. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”
Eichel is in the middle of an eight-year, $80 million deal he signed in 2017, making him one of the highest paid players in the game. On the ice, there aren’t many as gifted as Eichel, who has racked up 139 goals and 355 points in 375 games since being drafted by Buffalo with the second pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. He’s a coveted asset for teams looking for a franchise center but trading Eichel remains a challenge.
The injury uncertainty and high cap hit have kept teams away, as Adams’ asking price remains steep. While Kaplan reports that five teams are interested in Eichel, no team has taken the bait yet.
Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported today on his podcast, “32 Thoughts” that both parties are at a stalemate once again. Friedman added that he believes something will get done in the next two weeks. If something does not get done, Eichel’s next step would be to file a grievance against the Sabres.