The Buffalo Sabres have no intention of trading captain Jack Eichel, general manager Kevyn Adams said Monday.
Eichel’s comment following last season he was “fed up” with losing ignited speculation he could want out. Last week, after Eichel’s name surfaced in rumors, TSN’s Bob Mackenzie reported Eichel hadn’t requested a trade and the Sabres had no intention of dealing their top center.
“People call every day,” Adams said on a Zoom call in advance of the NHL Draft and free agency. “You listen and people bring players’ names up and ask, but I have no interest and no reason as I sit here today moving forward that you’d want to do something like that.
“I’m hoping I’m clarifying it for you, but that to me is an easy question because we have no intention of doing that.”
He added: “I’m not really sure where that’s coming from.”
Adams said he has “zero concern on Jack wanting to be here.” Eichel, 23, will be entering the third season of an eight-year, $80 million contract.
The Sabres haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, the NHL’s longest drought. Eichel has already played under three coaches and three GMs in five seasons.
Adams, who had no previous experience in an NHL hockey department, replaced Jason Botterill on June 16, just weeks after Sabres president Kim Pegula told the Associated Press that Botterill would remain GM.
Over nearly four months as GM, Adams said he has spoken to Eichel a few times and they’ve developed a “good relationship.”
“I connect from time to time with Jack, and I’m looking forward to getting to know him more as hopefully we get back into a mode where everybody’s in town and we’re into a rhythm of a season,” Adams said. “I think I’m really big on building relationships, and I think that’s a critical part of this. I’ve told all the players, I’m just going to be myself. I’m not going to be sitting upstairs in an office and not around. I want to hear from the players. I want to talk to them.
“You want to get to know them as people, and be around the locker room, ask questions. I always felt as a player that they know a lot.”
Eichel, the second overall pick in 2015, is the Sabres’ most dynamic player. The American compiled 36 goals and 78 points in 68 games in 2019-20 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NHL to cancel Buffalo’s final 13 games.
NHL teams have until Wednesday to give their RFAs qualifying offers.
“We’re still working through that,” Adams said. “The deadline’s coming. If we had pushed the conference call back a few hours, I might have an answer. I have a meeting coming up this afternoon, we’re going to go through it again.”