Jack Eichel was not among the players traded by the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, but the center remains the subject of rumors and the team is receiving calls about him.
“There has been a lot of conversations on a lot of different things on our team, and certainly a player of that level there’s going to be phone calls,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said. “I said from Day One that we have to look at every possible scenario and be willing to see, ‘Does this make sense for us and why?’ and ask those hard questions. We’ll continue to do that. We’re having a lot of conversations.”
Adams said he has had regular communication with Eichel’s agent and was happy to hear that the Sabres captain was skating again. He said he did not know where because Eichel is not spending the offseason in Buffalo.
Eichel missed the last 33 games of this season with a neck injury. He scored 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 21 games.
“Whether there are reports of him skating or not, he hasn’t been in Buffalo, but hopefully he continues to progress,” Adams said. “By all accounts from Peter Fish, his agent, he’s doing well, so we’ll see where it goes from here.”
Adams wouldn’t comment on what the Sabres are looking for in a potential trade.
“Right now, I think we are going to continue to look at every possible way to get our organization going in the right direction,” he said. “Whether I get asked questions specifically about Jack or on someone else, I’ll give you the same answer, we’re going to be open to everything, but we need to step forward, and if we’re going to do something with a player it has to have value to our organization moving forward. If in our minds we perceive the value isn’t there with any player, we wouldn’t do that, so that’s how we’re approaching it.”
The Sabres felt the value was there to trade defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft on Friday. Buffalo received the No. 14 pick, which it used to select forward Isak Rosen, and NHL defenseman Robert Hagg.
Ristolainen was Buffalo’s first-round pick (No. 8) in the 2013 NHL Draft and played 542 games with the Sabres, scoring 245 points (46 goals, 199 assists).
“I really like him as a person, as a player, but what we had to do is what I just said, we have to look at every possible scenario and how does that affect us in the short term and in the longer term look of things,” Adams said. “We felt although Rasmus has been a very good Buffalo Sabre and done a lot of good things in this organization, the value that we got warranted us making that decision.”
The Sabres are also reportedly trading center Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers, but Adams could not comment on that potential transaction because it was not official at the time he was addressing the media.
Buffalo selected Reinhart with the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. He scored 295 points (134 goals, 161 assists) in 454 games, including a Sabres-high 25 goals and 40 points in 54 games this season.
“It’s an exciting weekend because I feel we have an amazing opportunity as an organization to take a step forward and add quality players to our organization, and quality people,” Adams said.
One of them is defenseman Owen Power, selected by the Sabres with the No. 1 pick Friday.
“I didn’t know until they called my name,” he said. “I was kind of hoping. They got a lot of young prospects and I think a promising future, so I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Power said he hasn’t talked to the Sabres about his immediate future, if he will turn pro or return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore season.
“I think I can step in and play [in the NHL],” Power said. “I don’t think the decision will be whether or not I’m ready to play, it’s what is better for my development at the end of the day. I don’t think there’s a bad option, and it’s something we have to figure out.”
Adams said, “I know we’re talking about the No. 1 overall pick and a player that is clearly capable of stepping right into the NHL, but you have to look at the long game even with a player at this level and say, ‘What is best for him, how does he continue to get better?’ … It’s too early, but we’re going to sit down and have those discussions.”
Those discussions will likely come after a resolution on Eichel’s future, be it in Buffalo or elsewhere.
“If we’re in a position where we feel that there’s value and we feel it’s going to help our franchise, than we’ll make certain decisions,” Adams said. “It’s the same for the way we look at all players, it’s just different conversations, but that’s how we’re viewing it.”