OPINION: Report: Sabres asking Vegas for Krebs, Smith, Hague and first round pick in Eichel trade

The Sabres are reportedly asking for four pieces in any Jack Eichel trade

Throughout the summer, it's been widely reported that the Buffalo Sabres want four first round level pieces in any Jack Eichel trade, but it's never been reported what exact pieces they're looking to acquire.

Now we have that from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News. He reported on Tuesday the Sabres' asking price for Eichel in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights includes the likes of forwards Reilly Smith and Peyton Krebs, defenseman Nic Hague and a first round pick.

This may feel like an underwhelming return for Eichel, but Krebs could make the deal worth it on his own. The 20-year-old is the Golden Knights' top prospect after being drafted 17th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. Since being a mid-first round pick, the young center has had a strong development track.

Since being drafted, Krebs has produced well with 103 points (25+78) in 62 games for the Winnipeg Ice of the Western Hockey League.

Adding on to that, Krebs was able to register five points (1+4) in five games for the Henderson Silver Knights this past season in the American Hockey League. He also picked up one assist in four NHL games for Vegas, as well as eight points (3+5) in seven games for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship this past winter in Edmonton.

Krebs is an elite skater and offensive creator. Watching his junior tape reminds me a lot of Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders. If Krebs reaches his full potential, he would be the Sabres' future No. 1 center.

The rest of the trade is not all that inspiring, but I also wouldn't call it terrible.

The Golden Knights' first round pick will likely be very late. I'd guess it'll be 32nd overall if Vegas has a healthy Eichel all year.

Hague is not quite a throw-in, but is not some star prospect. The 6-foot-6 defenseman was an early second round pick (24th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. After a few years in the AHL, the 22-year old played his first full season in the NHL in 2021.

Hague played primarily on Vegas' third pair last year, averaging exactly 16 minutes of ice-time per-night, and compiling 17 points (5+12) in 52 games.

The final piece of the Sabres' ask is Smith, which is really a favor to the Golden Knights, but it still holds some value for Buffalo. While Smith's carries a cap hit of $5 million, his inclusion in the deal would help the Golden Knights fit Eichel's cap hit without having the Sabres retaining any salary long-term.

Smith is a very productive player and has been a staple of the Golden Knights' top-six forward group since their foundation. In 265 games with Vegas, Smith has scored 82 goals and registered 110 assists for 192 points. That averages out to 59 points per-82 games played.

At 30-years-old and with one year left on his deal, Smith could be flipped by the Sabres this offseason or at the NHL Trade Deadline for another future asset or more.

I might be in fantasy land imaging the Sabres could get a first rounder at some point for Smith, but a second rounder-plus is realistic.

If I were the Golden Knights, I would make this trade. Krebs is a tough pill to swallow, but you're not taking a big hit anywhere else.

Vegas is currently a Stanley Cup contender. They're elite on the wings (even without Smith) with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, and Alex Tuch. They have two incredible defensemen in Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore, plus a top NHL goaltender in Robin Lehner.

There's just one thing the Golden Knights do not have - centers. William Karlsson is a very good second line center, but forcing Chandler Stephenson into your top-six is not ideal.

Eichel would give Vegas a complete team, and he is the only path to finding a franchise changing No. 1 center this offseason.

This is also a destination, I'd imagine, that Eichel would love. Who wouldn't want to be the top center on the best team in hockey, after six years on the worst team in hockey?

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