Blues GM v4
Joined: Nov 2016
I know I'm a Caps fan and this is probably my bias kicking in, but an Eichel for Kuznetsov + swap makes a ton of sense to me. I don't think Buffalo wants to completely start over again, so Kuznetsov being the center piece of a deal is probably appealing to them. As long as we're able to move out Dillon's contract in this deal (not that he should be valued as a cap dump, just that we need to move money to make it happen), I'm alright with adding Lapierre, Vanecek, a first and another pick.
From Buffalo's side, they get as close to a "replacement" for Eichel that will be on the market in Kuznetsov. In Buffalo, he'd be in a very stress-free, free-wheeling brand of hockey that can play to his strengths. Obviously he's no Jack Eichel, but he's young enough and definitely talented enough that Buffalo can build with him moving forward. Vanecek has the potential to be a solid starting goalie. I know Ullmark has played well when healthy, but a tandem of Ullmark and Vanecek would certainly be a better situation than what they've found themselves in the last decade practically. As we know with Lapierre, he's got all the upside in the world, he just needs to get a lot stronger and stay healthy. Dillon is a solid, steady defenseman. Nothing special there. And then the picks on top of it.
For Washington, obviously they get a guy who's a top five center and MVP candidate when he's healthy and on his game. But the big thing for me with this trade is that it would eliminate the need for a big rebuild post-Ovi. They can keep a competitive window open after he retires, which is something no Caps fan thought would be possible. As much as I love Kuznetsov, it's clear that management won't hesitate to move someone that doesn't fit what Laviolette wants after the Vrana trade. Every other piece in the trade hurts to give up, but the potential reward is too massive to overlook. This move would make us easily one of the top three teams in the East and it's absolutely worth exploring.
I know I'm a Caps fan so this is probably biased. The return I outlined might be a bit underwhelming for some Sabres fans, but given Eichel is coming off of a neck injury, his value might not be what it should be when he's healthy. I'm not asking if this is a great, perfect trade for everyone. I'm asking if the idea in principle makes sense.