Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

After months of trade rumours, speculation and just general bad feelings, the Buffalo Sabres finally dealt away their injured and disgruntled former franchise player today. Jack Eichel, a 25-year-old centre, was sent to Vegas along with a third-round draft pick for 25-year-old winger Alex Tuch, 20-year-old rookie centre Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick and a second-rounder. Buffalo will not cover any of Eichel’s salary — a key element of the deal, considering he’s in the fourth year of an eight-year, $80-million US contract. The Sabres probably could have gotten more in return had they agreed to pay some of that.

This is about as big an in-season move as you’ll see in the NHL. Eichel hasn’t quite lived up to the hype he generated as the No. 2 overall pick (behind Connor McDavid, and two spots ahead of Mitch Marner) in the 2015 draft. But he’s still young and has shown flashes of superstardom despite playing for awful Buffalo teams since the day he entered the league. In his last full(ish) season, 2019-20, Eichel scored 36 goals in 68 games and averaged 1.15 points per game — the same rate as Sidney Crosby, and slightly better than Marner and Auston Matthews.

The wheels fell off last season, when Eichel managed just two goals in 21 games before injuring his neck when he was checked into the boards during a game in early March — right in the middle of Buffalo’s epic 18-game losing streak. Turned out, that was the last time Eichel would dress for the Sabres. He was diagnosed with a herniated disc, then got into a bitter squabble with the team over what type of surgery he should get to repair it, leading to Buffalo stripping him of his captaincy.

Eichel’s neck still needs fixing, but that could happen as soon as this week after Vegas gave its blessing to the surgery of his choice. It’s expected to take 3-5 months for Eichel to be ready to play again, meaning he probably won’t suit up for the United States at the Olympics in February but could join the Golden Knights lineup in time for the end of the regular season. Read more about the Eichel trade here and get a full breakdown in the video below featuring Golden Knights reporter Justin Emerson and CBC Sports hockey expert Rob Pizzo.

Now that the Eichel deal is (mercifully) done, let’s check in on some of the other interesting stuff happening on the ice so far this NHL season:

The Hurricanes are blowing everyone away.

At 9-0-0, Carolina leads the overall standings and is the only unbeaten team. Florida (8-0-1) is the only other club that hasn’t lost in regulation. The Hurricanes’ standouts include forwards Andrei Svechnikov (13 points) and Sebastian Aho (11), and new defenceman Tony DeAngelo (10). Carolina rolled the dice on DeAngelo after he was cut loose by the Rangers last season for his bad behaviour, culminating in a fight with a teammate. He’s also rubbed many hockey fans the wrong way on Twitter. But DeAngelo seems to be capitalizing on his fresh start. Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen is on fire as well, leading the league in wins (8) and goals-against average after being let go by the Leafs.

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