‘Towards the end it was between Calgary and Vegas’: Jack Eichel talks suitors before big trade

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
5 months ago
With the Flames sitting in the middle of the Pacific Division and toward the bottom of the standings in the NHL with players who are being paid an extreme amount of money but are under-performing, it’s hard to hear about what could have been.
The current 27-year-old Vegas Golden Knights forward and former second overall draft pick in 2015, Jack Eichel, talked about the saga that was his trade from the Buffalo Sabres to the Knights and how the Calgary Flames were the other team truly in the mix for his services during a recent appearance on the Empty Netters podcast.
Eichel is having another excellent season out west with 15 goals, 24 assists, and 39 points through 35 games played after a fantastic performance in last year’s playoffs, where he scored 26 points in 22 games, along with winning the Stanley Cup. His two previous seasons with the Golden Knights have totalled 101 games, 41 goals, and 50 assists for 91 points, which is a super impressive total considering some of the injuries that he has sustained as well.
Considering the problems that the Flames have had producing offensively, hearing that Eichel was a very real possibility to play for the Flames is a bit disheartening. Elias Lindholm is currently the first-line center for the team, and he’s obviously a perfectly good player. His two-way ability is more than adequate for a team like Calgary, but having an elite first-line centre that can score consistently around a point per game would help plenty. Additionally, it would give Lindholm a little bit less of an obligation to score as much as the Flames need to even maintain a shot at the playoff picture.
What the package to the Sabres would have included from the Flames isn’t talked about here, and it’s likely that Eichel wouldn’t know all of the details anyway, but it is interesting to think about the potential pieces in a trade that could have gone down. With Matthew Tkachuk still on the team at that point, his name was probably thrown around, and the entire paradigm of the league as we know it shifts. The Golden Knights don’t have Eichel to help lead the charge to a Stanley Cup victory, and the Florida Panthers don’t have Tkachuk to go on a scoring rampage in the regular season and through the postseason to help them to a Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Instead, Eichel is playing in Battle of Alberta games and starring as the centrepiece for the Flames in the Saddledome, playing heated rivalry games against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers and other major Western Conference foes while Tkachuk spends his time in Buffalo, helping to try and lead an already young team into the playoffs once again.
Eichel was unsurprisingly a fantastic pick-up for the Knights, and hearing that the Flames had a realistic shot is a bit of a shot to the heart, considering all that the former second-overall pick has done through the last three seasons. Of course, there are so many other factors that go into a trade like the one that went down for Eichel, but hearing that Calgary was *this* close drops the stomach a little bit.

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