Halfway through a record eight-year, $80 million contract with the Sabres, three-time All-Star Jack Eichel is leaving Buffalo. The Sabres on Thursday announced that they have traded the 25-year-old center to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a package of two players and two draft picks, including a 2022 first-rounder and 2019 first-round prospect Peyton Krebs.
Considered to be one of, if not the, top prospect in the Golden Knights' system, Krebs is accompanied by Alex Tuch, a former first-round pick of the Minnesota Wild. The Sabres are also receiving a 2023 third-round pick in the package for Eichel.
Eichel, meanwhile, is a massive addition for Vegas.
He's played just 21 games since last season due to a herniated disk. Eichel opened this season on injured reserve amid a dispute with Buffalo over surgery. But he's got five years left on the deal he signed in 2017, and, when healthy, the former No. 2 overall pick has been one of the NHL's top two-way centers, logging at least 24 goals in five straight seasons starting in 2015-16. He's totaled 139 goals and 355 points in 375 games in his NHL career.
Eichel's neck injury is what led to his departure from Buffalo. The Sabres preferred Eichel undergo fusion surgery to return from his herniated disk, as ESPN reported, but the All-Star instead sought artificial disk replacement -- never before performed on an NHL player. As a result, Buffalo stripped Eichel of his captaincy this season, but Vegas "was amendable to Eichel getting his preferred surgery."
The forward is now expected to undergo artificial disk replacement as soon as this week in the wake of the trade, according to Emily Kaplan.
The Sabres had initially been seeking four first-round assets in return for Eichel, as The Athletic notes. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, are expected to make a corresponding move with Eichel set to transform their forward group, considering they're eventually projected to be $7 million over the salary cap.