Eichel, 24, has a herniated disk in his neck, and there is now urgency to have it addressed as soon as possible. Initially, Eichel was hopeful that the Sabres would trade him to a team that would allow him to get a disk replacement surgery. The Sabres prefer Eichel receive a fusion surgery, as a disk replacement has never been performed on an NHL player. Under NHL collective bargaining agreement rules, teams have the final say on how to treat injuries.
As recently as last week, there were as many as five teams interested in trading for Eichel, according to sources. Buffalo, however, has held firm on its large asking price amid the medical uncertainty, which has cooled most trade talks.
Over the past several weeks, Eichel has been visiting various doctors, collecting medical opinions that support his preference to receive a disk replacement surgery. According to sources, Eichel’s camp is presenting that information to Buffalo management this week, hoping they will budge on their stance.
The next step for Eichel could be filing a grievance, which would be viewed as a last resort.
Eichel failed his physical and is currently on the Sabres’ injured reserve list. Buffalo stripped Eichel of his captaincy this season, and there’s now a good chance he will miss out on a roster spot for Team USA at the 2022 Olympics. Eichel was selected by the Sabres with the No. 2 pick of the 2015 draft. In 2017, he agreed to an eight-year, $80 million deal, making him the highest-paid player in franchise history.