St. Louis Blues: The Real Reason You Don’t Trade For Jack Eichel

Jack Eichel (9)St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jack Eichel (9)St. Louis BluesMandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Most fans would agree that the St. Louis Blues would be insane to not attempt acquiring Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel if he were to become available. However, there is a very valid reason the Blues should not trade for Eichel and it’s not the one most would think of.

Most fans who might argue against an Eichel trade would say it’s about the amount given up. Depending on the source you look at, most potential trades for the Sabres captain are pretty steep.

Almost all of them include several first-round picks. The Blues own three first round picks over the next three years.

So, they’d have the picks, but they’ve also traded several first rounders in recent years as well as drafting low in the first round when you do have a pick. You can only trade away your drafts for so long.

Most proposed trades involve a highly coveted prospect. The Blues talent pool is not bare, but it’s thin.

If the Sabres were not interested in someone like Scott Perunovich or Klim Kostin, the Blues would have to include even more draft picks. Again, you cannot mortgage your future forever, even though Eichel is young.

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In addition to the picks and, potentially, a prospect, the Sabres might ask for NHL-ready talent as well. There is an argument about what kind of contract they’d want to take on, so maybe we’re talking about someone cost controlled like Jordan Kyrou or Robert Thomas or maybe someone else.

Regardless, that’s a lot to give up. Eichel will provide you with plenty of offense, but still.

Eichel has proven his talents, scoring 30-plus goals once and never scoring less than 50 points in a real season. Considering how poor Buffalo has been, those points seem even more impressive.

Despite all that – despite the talent provided or the astronomical haul you might need to give up – the trade cost is not the reason the Blues should stay away. They should stay away because of the contract price.

Eichel is currently being paid $10 million per season, both in cap hit and what it’s costing the owners. That is a ton of money.

There’s arguments to be had if any player is worth that much, but it’s not as though nobody else is getting that much. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Connor McDavid all earn more than that – McDavid has an eye-popping $12.5 million cap hit.

However, regardless of what side you fall on for whether a player is worth the money, the bottom line is those players don’t win. Before you jump down my throat for such an assertion, it’s true.

Until Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2021 First Round, no player earning a double-digit AAV had won a playoff series.

Even I thought this assertion was crazy, but it’s not. Chicago did all their winning when their stars were on more team friendly contracts.

Both Kane and Toews signed their new deals in the 2015 offseason, after their last Stanley Cup. Chicago has not won a playoff series since.

Edmonton goes into every start of the season with a good deal of hype as any team would having the league’s best player. They have not won a playoff series since he was given that deal.

Toronto has not gotten out of the first round since they gave either of their two main stars double-digit cap hit contracts. Having any one, let alone two or three, player cost that much is not a recipe to winning a championship.

While the Canadiens have played quite well in the 2021 playoffs, the only reason they won a series is because they were playing Toronto. The Leafs are known for choking and the only reason the streak of no high salaried players winning a series ended was because it had to, since both sides had one.

Eventually, it might have ended anyway. The players with those contracts are good enough to carry a team for a brief time.

However, more often than not, you don’t have the financial freedom to fill out your roster.

Toronto has three forwards earning over $10 million. Due to this, they had to fill out their roster with older players trying for one last grab at a Cup as well as other guys asking to punch above their weight.

Chicago had a long run of finding inexpensive players to solidify their roster and they won three Stanley Cups because of it. However, eventually everyone wants to get paid and once you give two guys over $20 million combined, it’s near impossible to keep enough surrounding talent once everyone wants more money.

For all his talents, Carey Price is only one man. For years, the Canadiens have wasted his talents because they couldn’t give him a roster in front of him that would provide enough help.

Doug Armstrong has proven to be close to a miracle worker, but it would take some serious miracling to keep the Blues competitive for more than a season or two with that kind of contract. Maybe they last a year or two while you still have Robert Thomas or Jordan Kyrou under team-friendly deals, but that only lasts so long.

Would winning an immediate Stanley Cup make it worth it? Maybe so, but history – even if just brief history – shows that teams with very high-dollar players don’t make it to the Final or even past the first round.

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While we’ll always cherish the Cup the Blues won, they’re still the Blues. We can’t expect them to overcome so much.