It happened while you were sleeping and broke early Thursday morning as the Buffalo Sabres finally traded captain Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights.
As reported yesterday by Full Press Hockey, things were heating up in trade talks as the two teams battling for Eichel services were the red-hot Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights. However, once Calgary’s package got leaked Wednesday night, Vegas upped their ante to get Eichel. As part of the deal, the Sabres receive Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023. Kevyn Adams may not have gotten the two first-round picks, but he got the prospect and pick he wanted.
Now the Golden Knights have Mark Stone, who is injured, Max Pacioretty, also injured and Jack Eichel, who needs disc replacement surgery and will be out past the Olympics on their team. To coin a poker phrase suited for the city they play in, the Golden Knights are going “All-In” to win this season.
Owner Billy Foley made it clear he wanted to bring a Stanley Cup Championship to Vegas during the first five years the franchise existed. He came darn close in the Golden Knights’ inaugural season as the team fell in five games to the Washington Capitals. That historic season but an expansion team will never be duplicated again. Who would have thought Vegas would have made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season? Not too many people except the players and the coaches.
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However, ever since being a cast of misfits, the team has lost that identity. Now Vegas has become a destination for players to go. Just look at the acquisitions that have recently happened, Stone, Pacioretty, Robin Lehner, Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and the list goes on. In addition, they traded Marc-Andre Fleury before the start of this season. Vegas has gone through an overhaul, to remain a contender since their first season in the league. The key for Vegas is having the key players in the right positions to be successful.
How are championship teams built these days? With a number one goalie, a top defenceman and a number one centre. Vegas has all of that and more as they have now traded all their first-rounders in franchise history. The question for the Golden Knights will be how much rope do they have left before they run out of assets?
But this is what good teams do to be a contender for a long time. Vegas has been in the league only five years, but every year before the season starts they are a favourite to win and this is why. Adding Eichel secures their centre position. Not only that but they have the necessary scoring now to get them over the hump. As we saw over the last two postseasons, Vegas goal-scoring ran dry. Despite having one of the best offensives in the game. Vegas is hoping with this move it will put them over the top and they will not have that issue anymore.
Once Eichel is healthy after having his surgery and goes through the rehab process, Vegas has some work to do with the cap, but right now that does not matter. As of today, they improved their chances of winning the Stanley Cup by getting an elite-level talent. While some will put to the depth of Vegas being weakened, their top six is now one of the best in the league. Having a true number one centre gives Vegas better depth down the middle something they were lacking.
Vegas has the mentality like the New York Yankees once did in Major League Baseball, championship or bust. The move for Jack Eichel shows their commitment to winning. The Golden Knights are All-In when it comes to winning because after this year they may not be able to keep some of their key players from the first five years of existence.