Report: Sabres willing to include conditional picks in any Jack Eichel trade


The Buffalo Sabres and forward Jack Eichel remain at different ends of his medical situation as the 2021-22 regular season approaches later next week.

Eichel and his camp continue to push for an artificial disk replacement surgery to repair the damage done to a herniated disk in his neck. However, the Sabres remain staunch in their approach, wanting Eichel to get a fusion surgery instead.

While the original hope was for surgery to not be necessary for Eichel, it has gotten to a point where even general manager Kevyn Adams has admitted that there is no other option at this point.

With both sides at odds on a clear path for recovery, along with Eichel's frustrated with the level of disconnect between him and the team, a divorce from both sides is all but imminent.

However, trade talks between the Sabres and other teams around the National Hockey League have been hung up based on the asking price in a trade package for Eichel and, more importantly, the uncertainty surrounding the 24-year-old's medical situation.

It appears that medical uncertainty with teams around the league is starting to clean itself up.

"What's happened here over the last 10-plus days - Darren Dreger had told us at the outset of this period that this would happen - agent Pat Brisson has had the direct green light from Kevyn Adams and Buffalo to share more medical information with other teams," said TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun during Insider Trading on Thursday. "That has clarified some things for a lot of teams that are on the periphery of this things. So No. 1, there's that. Some teams now are comfortable with the artificial disk replacement surgery that Jack Eichel wants to have, other teams not so much. At least there's some clarity either way."

With teams now getting a clearer picture of Eichel's medical situation, that should allow for more meaningful trade talks to progress. The next issue at hand is the price that Adams is asking for from other teams in a return for Eichel.

According to LeBrun on Thursday, it appears Adams is willing to work with teams more to be able to facilitate a trade that works for both sides.

"Teams that have circled back to Kevyn Adams, and Kevyn Adams has circled back to teams; what has happened in these discussions, as I'm told, is that teams are saying, 'We have to have a conditional component to any potential trade, because we don't know what Jack Eichel is going to be like when he comes back. We don't know when exactly he'll be back,' although that surgery suggests four months. So what the Sabres have said is, 'Yes. We're going to have a conditional part to that trade.' That's a big deal. That's a big development, because now teams can feel a little more safely about entering the next phase in trade talks.

"I don't think a deal is imminent, but again, it's another step in the process here with everyone trying to get this deal done."

While the Sabres work to get a deal done with other teams and get the best possible return for, arguably, one of the best young center in the NHL, Eichel's agent has also been busy getting what's best for his agent. While getting set up in the best possible spot is of importance for Brisson, the health of his client is the No. 1 priority.

"I got involved about five weeks ago when, at first, I and we at CAA had to absorb the file. We had to look into his rights and what he could do, and what's right for him," Brisson explained on "The Jeff Marek Show" on Sportsnet 590 on Thursday. "First of all, from a health standpoint, it was a priority for him to feel well, feel good as a human being.

"When it comes to the CBA [collective bargaining agreement], 99% of the cases, surgeries - whether it's an ACL or a torn labrum or a shoulder, whatever - those may be a complicated case, but at the same time, everyone's pretty much on the same page. You have one doctor, a second opinion or third opinion, and usually most of the cases result pretty simply. In this case... the CBA is written in a way that teams, the team doctors have the last word with regards to the procedure that the player can have. This is a really, really complex one, because it's a unique situation."

"We've had a lot of dialogue with the team. We were on a regular basis having conversations with Kevyn Adams and Mr. [Terry] Pegula [in Buffalo]. We've been very transparent trying to work together here. We're trying to move as fast as possible. First and foremost, it's Jack's health. That's what's important. Every day that goes by is a day that we lost, in a sense that we want him on the table. We want him to get his surgery of preference, which in this case is the ADR [artificial disk replacement], and hopefully in the near future."

Brisson is working hard to get Eichel the best care for his neck in order to get back on the ice as soon as he can. Eichel is eager to get back to work to not only play NHL hockey this season, but also get back in time for a chance to represent the United States at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China this upcoming February.

"The clock is ticking, and that's why we're putting a lot of emphasis and a lot of pressure on getting it done," Brisson said. "With regards to Kevyn and the conversations he's having with teams - and that I'm having with teams, because we're communicating very well together - we [hopefully have] the same goals as to get this file moved as quickly as possibly. There are teams that are willing to go forward with the disk replacement procedure, and we've identified a few teams and we're having conversations with them and we're trying to move the needle as quick as possible."

The Sabres will open the 2021-22 regular season on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens at KeyBank Center. The men's ice hockey tournament at the 2022 Winter Olympics will start on Wednesday, Feb. 9 with preliminary round action, and will conclude with the medal round games on Sunday, Feb. 20.

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