The Jack Eichel Trade Doesn't Help Vegas This Year But Will Next Season

Published November 12, 2021 at 7:53 PM

When Jack Eichel was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights last week, I like most people thought that Vegas finally got the coveted number 1 Centre they've been looking for since the Franchise was born in 2017. But I did not overreact like some who said that Vegas was now a Stanley Cup Contender this year because there are many hurdles this team must leap over to make this happen.

Jack Eichel is scheduled for surgery today and the earliest timeline for him to return is 3 months from now which is Mid-February. However, this is the same time frame as the Winter Olympics so his debut with the Golden Knights could be pushed to the end of February or early March, almost a full year since his last game. Because of the elongated schedule due to a later than usual start, the Olympics and All-Star Break, that would give Jack Eichel 2 months to mesh with his new teammates before the playoffs start in May. Again, this is all hinging on if everything goes perfect with the surgery and recovery timeline. This is the first time an active NHL player has had disc replacement surgery so there are a lot of unknowns. Jack Eichel is on LTIR for cap relief as he currently carries an AAV of $10mil.

Max Pacioretty is still week-to-week with a lower body injury with no timetable for his return. Pacioretty is on LTIR and carries an AAV of $7mil. The timeline for Mark Stone's return is still unknown. He has started skating on his own but has not rejoined the team up to this point. Stone is also on LTIR and carries an AAV of $9.5mil. The entire potential «Best First Line in Hockey» is on LTIR until at least the home stretch of the season and who knows how healthy they will be. Between those 3 players Vegas has $26.5mil on LTIR with only currently $15.3mil in cap space according to CapFriendly. This still leaves them with $11.2mil they need to free up to get within the salary cap. Even if the Golden Knights were able to «Kucherov» one of those players, that means they will have not played a single game together as a cohesive unit until the playoffs and would have a short window to get on the same page. So, who are the Vegas Golden Knights willing to trade for essentially nothing to get under the cap? Alec Martinez at $5.25mil, William Karlsson at $5.9mil, Jonathan Marchessault at $5mil, or Evgeni Dadonov at $5mil who all have a Modified No Trade Clauses? Reilly Smith is in the last year of his contract at $5mil so he seems like an easy candidate but if you're taking a run at the cup can you afford to give up pieces for nothing?

The most important point that people are forgetting is where will Vegas even finish in the standings? Currently they are 1 point out of the playoffs and yes this is earlier, but also their entire first line is injured so do you expect them to get any better until one of their big 3 return? Fortunately, Vegas only needs to pass either the Los Angeles Kings or the Nashville Predators for a Wild Card spot or have a better point percentage than the Calgary Flames or Anaheim Ducks moving forward. Let's also not forget currently the Colorado Avalanche are 5 points back of Vegas with 3 games in hand.

This is not the year for the golden Knights to compete for a Stanley Cup but if they get their Cap Issues in order, maybe next year.
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