Sabres expect to keep Eichel, willing to trade pick at NHL Draft

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Jack Eichel has no desire to be traded by the Buffalo Sabres, general manager Kevyn Adams said Monday.

“I have zero concern on Jack wanting to be here,” Adams said. “I’ve had great conversations with him, his representatives.”

Adams was responding to questions about Eichel’s future in Buffalo after reports surfaced last week the team was taking calls inquiring about the availability of the center, who is also Sabres captain.

“I’m not really sure where that’s coming from and I know there’s been even more stuff recently, I was told,” Adams said.

“There’s no intention of moving Jack Eichel. I can make that very clear.”

TSN reported last week several teams asked about Eichel’s availability. Adams responded by telling WGR 550 in Buffalo that it was his job to keep an open mind when teams inquire, but that he hadn’t been shopping Eichel.

“What I said on [WGR], people call every day,” Adams said Monday. “You listen and people bring players’ names up and ask, but I have no interest and no reason as I sit here today moving forward that you’d want to do something like that. I’m hoping I’m clarifying it for you, but that to me it is an easy question because we have no intention of doing that.”

Video: WSH@BUF: Eichel bures one-timer from circle for PPG

Buffalo (30-31-8) finished 13th in the Eastern Conference this season and has not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2011, the longest current drought in the NHL.

The Sabres, who selected Eichel with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, have yet to reach the playoffs in the 23-year-old’s five seasons. In that time, they’ve had three general managers (Tim Murray, Botterill, Adams) and three coaches (Dan Bylsma, Phil Housley, Ralph Krueger). Adams replaced Botterill on June 16.

Eichel scored 78 points (36 goals, 42 assists) in 68 games, including a 17-game point streak from Nov. 16-Dec. 17 (16 goals, 15 assists), the longest in the NHL this season. His goals were an NHL career high, and he was four shy of his high in points (2018-19). He has 337 points (137 goals, 200 assists) in 354 games with the Sabres.

“I’m fed up and I’m frustrated … I’d be lying if I said I’m not getting frustrated with the way things are going,” Eichel said May 28.

Adams said one of his first priorities after being hired as GM was to reach out to Eichel by phone and reassure him of the Sabres’ big-picture plans. More will be known about their direction in the coming days.

Buffalo has the No. 8 selection in the 2020 NHL Draft on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Adams said he is open “to anything that makes the team better,” including trading the pick. He said there have been plenty of discussions, but nothing is imminent.

Adams also said the Sabres will be looking to add character either through trade or free agency, which begins Oct. 9. Buffalo acquired center Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild for forward Marcus Johansson on Sept. 16.

“I’ve been talking to the other general managers every day around the clock,” Adams said. “And some of the veteran ones, even this morning that I talked to, they asked me how I’m doing. I said, ‘I’m excited. You know, it’s my first time through this.’ And they said, `Well, 10, 15 of them and you’re still nervous, excited and anxious and all those good things.’ I just think that’s fun.

“But in terms of how we’re preparing and what we’re doing, I think our guys are ready to go. There’ll be more conversations and meetings through tonight and into tomorrow. But I’m excited.” 

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