Last week, the Vegas Golden Knights made it clear they are going all in for a Stanley Cup this year after they traded Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Jack Eichel and a 2023 third-round pick.
The trade didn’t come as a major surprise, as they were one of the favorites to land Eichel since it became clear the Sabres were looking to move him. Unfortunately, Golden Knights fans are going to have to wait to watch him make his debut as he is set to undergo a neck procedure this Friday.
The exact timeline of his return remains unknown, though Eichel himself has said he hopes to be back in three months. Regardless of when he comes back, Eichel is very confident that he will be an even better player than he has been to this point in his NHL career.
“I think I’ve got a lot more,” Eichel said to reporters on Monday. “I think I’m only scratching the surface. Yeah, I think the season a couple years ago, I think that was sort of the start of the way that I want to make an impact. Coming in here there’s some really good hockey players, and I think this kind of environment, the culture here, is only going to push me to become better.
“I think there’s a lot more in me, and this is about as motivated as I’ve been. I think there’s a lot of people out there that may be doubting me or don’t think I’m going to get back to the form I was in, so look forward to putting all the doubts to rest and getting back to the level that I believe I can play.”
Hearing this has to be extremely exciting for Golden Knights fans, as pre-injury Eichel was already regarded by many as a top-10 player in the NHL. The 25-year-old, who went second overall behind Connor McDavid in the 2015 draft, has an extremely impressive 139 goals and 355 points in 375 games. Even more impressive was that he was able to produce those numbers on a Sabres roster that lacked much talent during his entire six seasons there.
Now, when healthy, he will be returning to a team with plenty of offensive weapons in Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault just to name a few. It will be without a doubt the best lineup Eichel has ever been a part of, and assuming he is able to return to 100 percent, which he seems very confident in, it is very reasonable to believe that he may be an even better player than we have seen in the past.
It will still take some time before he is ready to go, but fans of this team should be thrilled with the work done by general manager Kelly McCrimmon here.
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