Last November, the Vegas Golden Knights were able to acquire Jack Eichel in a blockbuster trade from the Buffalo Sabres that saw Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick head the other way.
Almost immediately after the trade was complete, Eichel underwent a neck procedure which meant he had to wait to make his debut until the middle of February. That debut, along with his entire 34 games with the Golden Knights in 2021-22, were rather disappointing. The 25-year-old managed just 25 points during that span, albeit while playing the majority of those games with a broken thumb.
“Listen, I’m not going to make excuses,” Eichel said to NHL.com. “I don’t think I played well last year in terms of my expectation of myself, and I’m sure the opinion of the public is probably pretty similar. They expect more out of me, and rightfully so.”
“With that being said, I came off a major surgery after not playing for a year, and I had major spine surgery and played three months after and, so, that’s pretty quick and, you know, like anybody that’s had surgery or went through an injury, it takes a lot of time for you to get back to feeling like yourself.”
Prior to his neck injury, which limited him to just 21 games during the 2020-21 season, Eichel was viewed as one of the game’s premier young talents, often lumped in with players such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. While his stock amongst fans may not seem as high right now, he believes he will get back to an elite level of play in 2022-23.
“I think there are a lot of good things I did last year in terms of away from the puck and working and maybe some areas of my game that maybe I haven’t been good at in the past, but you know, I just want to get back to being that dynamic force that I was before I got hurt and I know I’ll be there.”
The Golden Knights are certainly hoping he can get back to that level, as they really handcuffed themselves when acquiring him and his $10 million cap hit, one that has forced them to make a number of other questionable moves just to remain cap compliant. That said, all will be forgotten by the fanbase if he is indeed able to reclaim his status as one of the game’s top players, which in itself should prove to be enough to get his new team back into the playoffs.
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