Detroit Red Wings: Trading for Jack Eichel would be a dream come true

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings should be in on the Jack Eichel sweepstakes this summer.

It’s not every day a franchise-altering centerman becomes available, and that is exactly what the Detroit Red Wings are missing.  Eichel is a game-changing talent who is just 24-years old, and his time with the Buffalo Sabres appears all but over.

The former first overall selection burst onto the scene as a rookie, recording 24 goals and totaling 56 points in 81 contests as a 19-year old.  When you consider the club he was playing for, those numbers are quite impressive.  Buffalo has basically been as lifeless as the Detroit Red Wings over the past few seasons.  Actually, you can argue the Sabres haven’t been relevant since Dominik Hasek left town.

Eichel mentioned at the seasons’ end that he and the organization were not on the same page regarding the treatment of his neck injury that limited him to just 21 games this past season.  In those 21 games, the star center recorded 18 points despite only scoring twice.

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Throughout his young NHL career Eichel has amassed 355 points in 375 games.  He’s recorded 20-plus goals in each of his seasons aside from 2021, and in 2019-20 he scored a career-high 36 goals and totaled 78 points in just 68 games.

Jack Eichel is a bona fide first-line center, and he’s exactly what the Detroit Red Wings are missing.

I’ve mentioned this numerous times; Dylan Larkin is an outstanding player, but he’s not an NHL first-line center.  He’s not an elite player, and the modern-day NHL is built around having elite players.

Sure, some will be quick to point out the Edmonton Oilers.  Connor McDavid is elite and the league’s best player, but they can’t seem to win a playoff game, let alone a playoff series.  Teams still need to have a supporting cast, and aside from Leon Draisaitl, it’s pretty thin in Edmonton.

Larkin can be that perfect do-it-all complementary piece to Eichel on the Red Wings.  Imagine being about to deploy Larkin as the second-line center, followed by Michael Rasmussen or Joe Veleno (if not a part of the hypothetical deal).

With the overall potential of Lucas Raymond and Filip Zadina mixed with Jakub Vrana settling in as a valuable first-line winger mixed with Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri, things could quickly shift gears for the Detroit Red Wings.

Needless to say, to land a player like Eichel will take a blockbuster type of deal.  GM Steve Yzerman won’t be willing to part with the majority of the draft capital he’s worked so diligently to acquire over the past two years, but for Eichel, he’d need to part with a large chunk of it.

Here is my offer.

The Red Wings currently have two first-round picks and three seconds in 2021.  I can only assume Washington’s first-rounder plus a pair of seconds would need to be built into the deal.

We can also assume that a player like Moritz Seider will be considered untouchable, but how about Filip Hronek?

I like Hronek, but I also understand that something needs to give.  The 23-year old Hronek is coming into his own, playing nearly 23 minutes per night and recording 26 points while appearing in all 56 of Detroit’s games this past season.

That still won’t be enough to land Eichel, and I can only assume Buffalo would request a player like Bertuzzi in the deal, and that’s where things start to get very difficult.  It’s hard to move someone like Bertuzzi, who has proven his worth as a scorer and a grinder.  He’s a glue guy, and his on-ice presence was clearly missed this season while he nursed a back injury.

I’d feel much more comfortable moving a prospect like Veleno or Rasmussen in a potential deal. Again, although I like both players, Buffalo will have plenty of trade offers for their young superstar, and you won’t be able to acquire him for next to nothing.

Buffalo will be reluctant to move Eichel to a team in the Eastern Conference, let alone a team in their division, so if Detroit has any chance of landing him, they will need to pay a premium.  I know Detroit and Buffalo didn’t play in the same division this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, I assume the divisions will re-align before the beginning of next season.

Next. Washington being eliminated early helps draft position. dark

Eichel is due $10-million per season until the conclusion of the 2025-26 season.  The Detroit Red Wings, unlike many teams, have the salary-cap space to make this deal.