During the off-season, while the Montreal Canadiens were signing assets and there was some energy surrounding the team, many of us were shaking our head at the rumours circulating about Montreal being in the mix for Jack Eichel. For one, the asking price by Buffalo rumoured to be the equivalent of four first round picks was ridiculous. Then you add the $10 million cap hit coming with Eichel. Last but not least, the uncertainty of his neck and his future after surgery, not counting the four months he would miss for rehab. It made little sense for a team only a few weeks away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals.
But now, the landscape has changed greatly in Montreal. With Shea Weber out for the season (at least), the Canadiens’ defense is suspicious at best and being without Joel Edmundson out, it’s not going to get any easier. Mike Hoffman has started skating but he’s far from a return, and he will miss substantial time early in the season. Then came the news that Carey Price is taking a leave from the team to take part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. The team hasn’t looked sharp at all in pre-season either.
Circling back on Eichel
TSN Insiders Darren Dregger and Pierre LeBrun both said that discussions with the Sabres have heated up, mostly due to the fact that Eichel’s agent, Pat Brisson, has been given the green light to share his client’s medical records with potential suitors. LeBrun added that the Sabres are now accepting of the fact that part of the trade should be conditional to Eichel’s health upon his return.
So the question is… why not the Habs? The team trading for Eichel will have to be four months without him, and without the assets they’ve given to obtain his services. In a league with so much parity, it would pretty much put a cross on the playoffs for most teams trading for him. Many feel like this team would be a long shot to make the playoffs without Eichel and if fans learn to be realistic in their expectations, the losses mentioned above will contribute to make the post season a very unreasonable goal.
EIchel is 24 years old. He’s in the fourth year of an eight-year contract. He has 355 points in 375 games since in the NHL and if you take away his rookie year, he is averaging over a point per game. He stands at 6-foot 2-inches and weights over 200 lbs. He’s a dynamic player and if he returns to full capacity, he will be a difference-maker. So if some of the picks are conditional to his health, why not?