Jack Eichel‘s agents said Friday they expected the center to be traded by the Buffalo Sabres by now.
“The process is not working,” agents Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli said in a statement. “As previously stated, we fully anticipated a trade by the start of the NHL free agency period (Wednesday).”
The statement was released in response to comments made by Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams on Thursday.
“We’re continuing to have a lot of conversations with teams and we’re open on all our players,” Adams said then. “I’ve said over and over again, and Jack in particular, the phone rings, we have conversations, but I think what’s critically important to make sure is clear is that we’re in control of this process.”
Fish and Donatelli told Sportsnet in comments published Sunday they expected Eichel to be traded in the near future. Adams has said he will not give in to calls to trade the 24-year-old, who has scored 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 NHL games since being selected by Buffalo with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.
“I’m not worried about distraction, I’m worried about doing what’s right for the Buffalo Sabres,” Adams said. “And that’s why I say I’m taking the emotion out of it. We look at what is best for us moving forward, and if there’s something that makes sense, we’ll do it.
“What I can’t say is it has to be this time or that time or any sort of pressure point. If it’s the right time and the right deal, we’ll do it, but that’s just, you know, how I feel. I feel very strongly about that.”
Adams said last Saturday he would have no problem with Eichel being at training camp in September, and said Thursday he is not concerned what impact there would be if that happened.
The Sabres captain missed the final 33 games of last season with a herniated disk after scoring 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 21 games. Adams said he was aware Eichel has started skating again and said there is no change in his medical condition.
Eichel and the Sabres have not agreed on treatment. Eichel has expressed interest in surgery; the Sabres have said their doctors aren’t comfortable with a procedure that has not been performed on an NHL player, preferring an approach of rest and rehab.
On July 1, Fish said he believed the sides were “headed toward a resolution.”
On Friday, the agents said, “What is being left out of the discussion is that Jack would be able to play in the NHL for the start of the season pending medical clearance if he were allowed to have the surgery he desires even as of this date. Repeated requests have been made to the Sabres since early June to no avail. This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and is not working.”
Eichel has been the subject of trade rumors because of his public dissatisfaction with Buffalo’s on-ice results and the difference of opinion over his medical situation. The Sabres (15-34-7) were last in the NHL standings this season, which included an 18-game streak without a win, an NHL record. They have not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2010-11, five seasons before Eichel’s debut.
Two other Sabres who expressed disappointment with the results of the season — forward Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen — were traded in the week leading to the beginning of free agency.
Ristolainen was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Robert Hagg, the No. 14 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, and Reinhart was traded to the Florida Panthers for goalie prospect Devon Levi and a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.