Why Flames fans shouldn’t get their hopes up about a Jack Eichel trade
By Josh Werle, Contributor
An expansion draft, a multitude of goaltending changes, and many notable unrestricted free agents have made the 2021 NHL free agency season one to remember. Although many high-level players have changed teams, the name that had the hockey world buzzing was Jack Eichel, as a trade from Buffalo seemed inevitable.
As the regular season approaches, it seems less likely that Eichel will be moved. It’s clear that Flames fans have been expecting a big change, and the former number two overall pick in 2015 seems like the perfect candidate. But there are many reasons why Flames fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for a potential Jack Eichel trade.
Buffalo’s asking price is too high
After losing Linus Ullmark to the Bruins in free agency and trading away star players Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen, it’s clear that the Buffalo Sabres are looking for a fresh start. So why hasn’t Eichel been moved yet? One possible explanation is that Buffalo is simply asking for too much in return. Nobody knows exactly what Buffalo is looking for, but you can assume that Calgary would have to uproot their team and/or their future in order to get him. Trading away too many future picks or having to move too many star players could easily leave Calgary worse off than before, even if they get Eichel in return.
A potential trade may be more risk than reward
One of the biggest misconceptions in team sports is that a player can change teams while maintaining the numbers they were putting up in previous years. Some players change teams and start to improve their statistics, but some don’t. If the Flames happen to trade for Eichel, they will undoubtedly have to give up some of their star players. The issue is that these star players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have been with the Flames for many years, and messing around with their chemistry may not be the best idea.
Sure, the idea of having a near point-per-game player on the Calgary Flames would be very nice, but potentially losing too many core players in exchange is certainly a huge risk. Eichel is currently battling injuries that may force him to miss games depending on how the healing process goes. He’s dealing with a herniated disk, and although he wants to have surgery, the Buffalo organization believes it is best that he rests and rehabilitates without going under the knife. It seems like a risk to trade for Eichel right now, especially if it requires the Flames to give up some of their star players.
The Flames have already made their big moves
If the Flames happen to start the 2021-2022 season without superstar Eichel, this would seem like the most logical reason. At first glance, it would seem that the Flames haven’t made too many changes in the offseason, which isn’t entirely true. Although there weren’t any additions that carry the name value that Eichel possesses, the Calgary Flames have made a number of solid additions to their team that should allow them to have a solid 2021-22 campaign.
The Flames signed the back-to-back Stanley Cup winner and unrestricted free agent Blake Coleman for the next six years. Coleman finished last season with 31 points in 55 regular season games and scored one of the most magnificent goals of the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.
The team also acquired defenseman Nikita Zadorov from the Chicago Blackhawks. At 6’6 and 236 pounds, Zadorov will bring a wealth of physicality to the Calgary Flames team.
Finally, there is 23-year-old goaltender Dan Vladar, who the Flames acquired from the Boston Bruins. Although his NHL experience is limited, Vladar is a great option as a backup goaltender to Jacob Markström. The names of these three players might not hold the same kind of weight as Eichel’s, but they’re all extremely talented. These new acquisitions should provide the Flames with some fresh talent while maintaining the chemistry created by their core members.
Overall, it’s looking highly likely that Flames fans are going to have to settle for the moves that have already been made and hope that coach Darryl Sutter can help guide the team back to their winning ways. Even with the absence of former captain Mark Giordano, the Flames have many long-time players who can lead the charge, and with a number of new offseason acquisitions having already been made, Flames fans should not get their hopes up at the prospect of having Eichel in a Flames uniform come October.