Despite recent reports indicating a breakthrough in the Jack Eichel trade talks, it appears discussions have stalled again. The Buffalo Sabres are willing to consider a conditional aspect to a deal based on the 24-year-old center's health and performance but his salary remains a sticking point.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports the Sabres aren't willing to retain any portion of Eichel's $10 million annual cap hit to facilitate a trade. They'll take back some contracts in a deal but it remains difficult given his cap hit and the remaining four years of his contract.
Friedman believes that issue brought discussions with the Colorado Avalanche to a halt. CapFriendly shows the Avs already pressed against the $81.5 million cap for this season, with over $55.7 million invested in 12 players for next season.
ESPN's Emily Kaplan said there were five teams still interested in Eichel capable of absorbing his full cap hit within their payrolls, speculating that might mean moving some contracts. She also indicated they'll allow him to undergo the disc replacement surgery he wants for his neck.
Kaplan didn't identify those teams but the Avalanche might not be among them based on Friedman's report. TSN's Pierre LeBrun suggested the Anaheim Ducks as potential suitors as they can afford to wait for Eichel's recovery.
LeBrun also believes the St. Louis Blues could be lurking but they still want to be a contender this year. The Calgary Flames did due diligence this summer while the San Jose Sharks could have $7 million in cap space depending on what happens with Evander Kane.
Whether any of those clubs make a pitch remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it's clear more work needs to be done to make an Eichel trade happen.