The Buffalo Sabres have started wheeling and dealing, trading away defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers for the 14th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, a second round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and defenseman Robert Hägg.
It was a great start for general manager Kevyn Adams, but now comes the big question: How about Jack Eichel?
TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger believes the Sabres will trade their disgruntled star within the next week, because they have little choice.
“I don’t think Buffalo needs the distraction of Jack Eichel coming back,” Dreger said with Andrew Peters, Craig Rivet and Martin Biron during "The Instigators" on Friday. “Unless the Sabres change their position, it’s not likely Jack Eichel is having the surgery he wants to have as member of the Buffalo Sabres. So is he going to be ready for training camp? If he’s not ready, he’s not ready.”
With that said, the Sabres’ high asking price for Eichel remains an obstacle. Earlier Friday, esteemed New York Rangers reporter Larry Brooks tweeted Buffalo’s demands remain “fantastical.”
After talking to his Rangers sources, Dreger pegs the odds of Eichel heading to "The Big Apple" at about 5%.
So who does that leave?
While Dreger said there’s no updates on the Minnesota Wild or Anaheim Ducks (who remain interested), a sleeper team could emerge.
“I believe there’s a team out there that is going to surprise somebody — all of us,” he said. “I’ve got a suspicion, but I’m not going to disclose it, because I don’t want to be that guy who speculates about something that isn’t verified, but if there is that team that’s going to step to the forefront, a lot of people are going to be surprised. But that’s a big ‘if.’”
As Dreger would tweet out later Friday, that "mystery team" appears to be the Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL Draft airs Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN 2. You can listen to live coverage of the draft on WGR starting at 7 p.m. ET with Joe DiBiase and Brayton Wilson.
In case you missed Dreger's interview, you can listen to it below: