Fans have been circling a few teams around the National Hockey League as potential suitors for Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.
One of the teams that was potentially in on trade discussions for Eichel was the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sportsnet hockey insider Elliotte Friedman named the Blue Jackets, along with the the Anaheim Ducks, as primary suitors for Eichel's services.
It appears as if the Blue Jackets have bowed out, according to team insider Aaron Portzline. He reported on Thursday that talks between Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams and Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen were had, but ultimately Columbus is not gunning for the Buffalo captain.
“After talking with numerous sources in recent days, it doesn’t appear that the Blue Jackets – at least as of today – are in hot pursuit of Eichel, one of the premier centers in the league,” Portzline wrote.
According to Portzline, a deal for Columbus to acquire Eichel would have to include some key draft capital, an NHL player or two, and a choice top prospects.
Elvis Merzlikins is one of the two goaltenders currently on the Blue Jackets' active roster. The 27-year-old recorded a 2.77 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage in 28 games between the pipes last season. Merzlikins has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $4 million.
Texier has amassed 29 points (11+18) in 87 career games with the Blue Jackets. He is scheduled to be a restricted free agent once the 2021-22 season officially begins on Wednesday, July 28.
Chinakhov, Marchenko and Peeke were ranked by NHL.com as the second, third and fourth best prospects in the Blue Jackets system, respectively, this past November.
Meanwhile, the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft would give the Sabres two picks in the top-five in next month’s draft.
The Blue Jackets aren’t the first team to reportedly bow out of the chase for Eichel.
The Los Angeles Kings have reportedly expressed little interest in engaging in trade negotiations for Eichel, this according to Kings insider John Hoven. The report was all but confirmed by Friedman during an appearance with "The Instigators" on WGR two weeks ago.
The Eichel trade saga is one that’s worth monitoring by not just Sabres fans, but by all fans around the NHL.