In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, Jack Eichel spoke with ESPN about his upcoming return to Buffalo. In other news, Ben Hutton signed a two-year extension with the club days ago. While he will likely remain in Vegas for some time now, Evgenii Dadonov may not, as rumors are afloat that the team may look to move him ahead of the trade deadline.
Eichel Opens up About Sabres Departure
This past offseason, it became abundantly clear that Eichel wanted a trade from the Sabres. Though it took some time, he got his wish in early November, as he was dealt to the Golden Knights. Shortly after then, he was able to undergo a neck procedure, which had held him out of the lineup since early March of 2021. He just recently made his season debut and will be in the lineup Thursday against his former team in their arena. He sat down with ESPN recently and spoke on the matter.
“I was frustrated,” Eichel admitted. “If you think about the reason why you took the captaincy away from me, it was because I didn’t agree with you medically. Then you basically told me not to come around for training camp. At that point, it just felt like they were toying with me. So I was just, I was pretty over it.”
At the end-of-season press conferences for 2020-21, Eichel said that there was a disconnect between him and the Sabres, and it all stemmed from his neck injury. He and the team had different ideas on what procedure to have done, and they were uncomfortable letting him decide for himself. As a result, there was some serious tension which ultimately led to him being traded.
“I think about my time in Buffalo, it obviously ended a little bit messy,” Eichel said. “But I hope (fans) can look past some of the things that happened maybe in the last year and think about the previous five-and-a-half, six years that I was there, and everything that I tried to do for the community, everything that I feel like I put forth on the ice as a hockey player, and know I just tried to do as much as I could for the city.”
He went on to add that he holds no resentment to the organization, though whether or not the fans feel the same way will be determined tomorrow night. The 25-year-old is beginning to round into form with his new club, as he is up to three goals and seven points in 10 games and will likely suit up in the playoffs for the first time in his NHL career.
Hutton Signs Extension
This past offseason was a long one for Hutton, as he didn’t receive much interest from teams and was forced to attend Anaheim Ducks training camp on a professional tryout offer. He ended up being released from the team but was then given a one-year deal from the Golden Knights shortly after.
Related: Golden Knights’ Struggles Highlight Fundamental Flaws
He has clearly impressed coaching staff in his depth role, as he received a two-year extension this past Saturday. The deal will carry a cap hit of $825,000, which is a slight raise over his current $750,000 deal. In 37 games this season, he has two goals and nine points while averaging just under 15 minutes in ice time per game.
Dadonov May Be On Trading Block
Shortly after acquiring Eichel, there was plenty of speculation as to who the Golden Knights may need to move in order to make room for his $10 million cap hit. That hasn’t become an issue just yet, as Mark Stone went on long-term injured reserve with a back injury prior to the team activating Eichel. However, they currently have little cap space and will need to make a move if they hope to activate either Stone or Alec Martinez before the playoffs.
If they do indeed activate either, one player who could be on the move is Dadonov. The Golden Knights acquired the 32-year-old from the Ottawa Senators this summer in hopes that he could rediscover the offensive touch he showed during his three seasons with the Florida Panthers. That hasn’t been the case, however, as he has just 11 goals and 23 points in 56 games this season. Given that he still has another season left on his deal with a cap hit of $5 million, the Golden Knights would likely have to throw in a pick or prospect in order to move him.
Up Next for the Golden Knights
The Golden Knights played their first game of the week on Tuesday in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, where they were handed a 2-1 loss. They will look to rebound on Thursday against the Sabres and will then face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins the following evening. Their final game of the week will come on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. All three of the games will be of extreme importance as they look to maintain their current four-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for third place in the Pacific Division.