After more than six months battling over medical issues and negotiating with numerous clubs, the Buffalo Sabres finally consummated a deal for Jack Eichel, sending the All-Star center and a 2023 third-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for winger Alex Tuch, center Peyton Krebs, a top-10 lottery-protected 2022 first-round and 2023 second-round pick.
Reports earlier in the week indicated that the Calgary Flames and Golden Knights were the leading candidates in the bidding war for Eichel and an offer involving winger Matthew Tkachuk and a package of prospects and draft picks was on the table, but Adams indicated in a media availability on Thursday that those reports were erroneous.
“We talked to everybody in the league, and just at different times and just checking in and sometimes they got more serious and then (for) different reasons, the discussions would break down.” Adams said. “What I felt strongly about was (that) we were not going to be backed into a corner or feel that we were going to make a deal that we did not feel was right for us regardless of any external pressure or anything being said.”
Although the Sabres did not receive the return that they had publicly stated throughout the summer for the 25-year-old top-line center, they were able to exact a top prospect in Krebs, a solid veteran winger in Tuch (currently on injured reserve recovering from off-season shoulder surgery), a package of draft picks and not retain any of Eichel’s $10 million salary for the next five seasons.
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Krebs was selected 17th overall by Vegas in 2019, played with Sabres forward Dylan Cozens on Team Canada at the 2021 World Juniors, and is considered the Golden Knights’ top prospect. The 20-year-old center has played just 20 games as a professional over the last two seasons and was forced into the Vegas lineup after injuries to Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, and Mark Stone.
The young center was scoreless in nine games with the Golden Knight and Buffalo will be starting Krebs with their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
“In terms of Peyton, it’s just making sure we set him up for success. He could be jumping into our lineup tonight and play and we know he’s a really good hockey player right now, (but) we’re excited about is the hockey player he’s going to become over time and that’s our focus.”
Tuch was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2014 and has 61 career goals in 255 games with Vegas over four seasons. The big 25-year-old Syracuse, NY native is signed through 2026 at $4.75 million per season and more importantly is looking forward to playing for the Sabres as opposed to Eichel, who grew frustrated with the club’s losing ways and wanted to move on.
“Alex is a very good hockey player, proven in this league, under contract for this year in the next four years at a young age, (is) a very productive player, and a high character leader.” Adams said. (Tuch) wants to be part of the solution. He was unbelievable in my conversation with them and how excited he is to be a buffalo Sabre and told me this is a dream come true for him. So that’s exactly the type of person and talent on the ice we need and exactly the type of personality we need off the ice as we drive our culture forward.”