The Jack Eichel saga is over.
The Buffalo Sabres traded their former captain to the Vegas Golden Knights in the wee hours of Thursday morning, along with a third-round pick, in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, a top 10 protected first-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL draft.
Eichel will reportedly now be able to get the disc replacement surgery in his neck that the Sabres denied him for so long, mercifully ending a saga during which he was in daily pain.
Freed from the shackles of Buffalo, Eichel will almost certainly thrive in Vegas once fully recovered. The potential of him joining a line with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone when healthy is a delicious thought for any hockey fan, effectively giving the Golden Knights their first true number one centre in franchise history.
Remember: this is a team that trotted out Chandler Stevenson as their 1C for the third round of the playoffs last year. Eichel is one of the best players in the league that his position.
The upgrade is enormous.
As for the Sabres, the beleaguered franchise made out as well as one could expect from this prolonged ddebacle.
Peyton Krebs, the centrepiece, is a criminally underrated young forward throughout his young career thus far who is just 20 years old and could factor quite nicely into Buffalo's young core headlined by Owen Power in the years to come. Alex Tuch is a useful piece in his own right, with perhaps his best selling point being that he's under contract for the next four years at a $4.25 million cap hit -- meaning that he will both help the Sabres hit the cap floor with Eichel's $10.5 million now off the books, and, most importantly, cannot leave.
With the 2022 and 2023 drafts being absolutely loaded with talent, the Sabres did well to stockpile picks. Given that Eichel may not suit up this season, and their massive list of injuries, there's a good chance the first-rounder Buffalo got from Vegas could land in the lottery, thereby giving them two high picks in a stacked class.
It's a happy ending to one of the uglier sagas in recent memory. Eichel can get healthy and the Sabres can move on. Win-win.