Bruins Were Wise To Stay Out Of Jack Eichel Sweepstakes

The idea was fun to dream about, but always a longshot

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November 4, 2021

The idea of Jack Eichel coming to the Boston Bruins was enticing, make no mistake.

It’s hard not to think about Patrice Bergeron finishing up a shift, and heading to the bench with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, only for Eichel, Taylor Hall and Craig Smith to be the next three over the boards.

But there is far more nuance to the Eichel situation than just moving a few players around, so the idea of him coming to the Bruins was far better in theory than in practice, so Boston was wise not to overextend itself for Eichel.

The long-running standoff between Eichel and the Sabres reached an end Thursday. Buffalo moved its former captain, along with a third-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a 2022 first-round pick and 2023 third-round pick. It was a haul, to be sure, but probably not as sizable of a return for Buffalo had they not messed around for months. Now, Eichel gets to have the surgery he’s wanted on his neck, and in at least four months, he figures to be back on the ice.

If you think what the Golden Knights parted with was steep, just know it would have taken even more for Buffalo to trade Eichel to the Bruins. The last thing Buffalo would have wanted was to keep Eichel within the division, only to have him torture them for the next five years. The Taylor Hall situation last season was different, as he was a pending free agent, never going to return and had trade protection, allowing him to dictate the situation.

With Eichel, the Sabres were just holding out for the best deal, and the Bruins would have needed to blow them away.

On-ice, you obviously have to look at the long-term benefit of having someone like Eichel for the next five seasons. But while the Bruins are a team with a clear vision for the future, they also have an equally clear focus on winning now. Adding Eichel probably would have railroaded the present to some level.

The Golden Knights sent two forwards to the Sabres, a team that desperately needed to add up front. The Bruins already have been ravaged by injuries at forward, so parting with a roster player or high-end forward prospect would have been a risky play for Boston. Further, Eichel would immediately go on long-term injured reserve, leaving a potential chasm for the Bruins up front.

Sure, he could return around March or April and help in the playoff push. But the Bruins play in a challenging division with little room for error, and they simply couldn’t afford to play out the lion’s share of the season with question marks up front.

No doubt, Eichel would have been an exciting addition to the Bruins. But now is not the time for myriad reasons, so this probably will be a conversation to revisit in a few years. He’ll only be entering his age-30 season when he hits unrestricted free agency in 2026, by the way, so if you are still dreaming of Eichel in Black and Gold, that’s probably the idea to cling to.

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