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It’s been a crazy day for the Buffalo Sabres to say the least. On the same day the team announced a three-year, $6 million AAV extension with defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, Sabres AP writer John Wawrow is reporting that captain Jack Eichel is not expected to pass his physical today.
Eichel, 24, has presumably been on the trade block for the past year and has major issues with the Sabres organization. And for once, it doesn’t have to do with Buffalo’s place as resident basement dweller in the NHL.
Instead, it’s his health, which he has dealt with since March. Eichel suffered a herniated disk in a game against the New York Islanders and since then, a rift between himself and the team has created an awkward offseason for both parties. Eichel wants to have artificial disk replacement surgery, but the Sabres refuse to grant Eichel his wish to have the surgery. The reason? The surgery has never been performed on an NHL player.
The result? A failed physical looming and another distraction hanging over the franchise. As for Eichel’s desire to be traded, he is entering year four of his eight-year, $80 million contract that has a full no-trade clause that kicks in next summer.
Although he is one of the most talented players in the league, Buffalo is not able to determine Eichel’s accurate value on the market due to the unknowns surrounding his injury. He’s a game changer on the ice, registering 139 goals and 355 points in 375 career games.
It remains to be seen whether Eichel has played his last game for Buffalo, with Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman reporting on Tuesday that there’s a high chance the Sabres remove his captaincy.
It’s all the makings of a messy ending for the 2015 second overall selection. Once thought of as a franchise savior, Eichel may finally be done in Buffalo. Zero playoff appearances to show for it.