The Buffalo Sabres are heading into what is likely their most crucial offseason as a franchise given everything going on with Jack Eichel.
With the captain’s future with the franchise uncertain, the vultures are circling the team as the Sabres have reportedly been getting calls about Eichel along eith other players, accoring to TSN’s Darren Dreger. It’s not surprising that these discussions are already happening considering the lack of time there is from the end of the season and the upcoming NHL Entry and Expansion Drafts.
Right now, the priority should be to get a head coach in place because they will likely want to know what type of situation they are walking into. Of course, there are probably candidates the team is considering that are currently still coaching.
Question No. 1 that will be asked of general manager Kevyn Adams is whether or not the relationship between the Sabres and Eichel is beyond saving? If it is, who will be joining him out the door because the team made it clear that they only want players who want to be in Buffalo.
This could mean dweeping changes with numerous players finding themselves new homes and the team having to consider the Seattle Kraken in their decisions.
With that being said, here are a few players who will likely get some calls from teams heading into the offseason.
Trade candidate No. 1: Rasmus Ristolainen
It has not been the most pleasant experience for Rasmus Ristolainen in Buffalo as many expected the six-year, $32 million contract to be a reasonable one for a top pairing defenseman.
Instead, Ristolainen has played 542 regular season games without even sniffing playoff action. Safe to say, the 26-year-old isn’t going to be willing to stay for another rebuild given his comments at the end of the season.
"“I’m open for all the ideas,” Ristolainen said to reporters. “Right now, it’s hard. Obviously the season just ended, so, yeah, I’m frustrated and I’m pissed and it sucks. So I told [Adams] I’m open for all the scenarios: staying, or if he trades me, I’m fine with that, too.”"
If a team is looking for a right-handed shot defenseman at a reasonable price, the Sabres have no reason to not pull the trigger on a Ristolainen trade. If they are indeed planning to go through a rebuild, they can take some salary back to make sure a team can fit Ristolainen’s $5.4 million cap hit.