Buffalo Sabres trade Jack Eichel to Vegas Golden Knights

Jack Eichel will get artificial disk replacement surgery as soon as this week, sources told ESPN, after the star was traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday morning.

The return for Buffalo is Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, a future first-round draft pick and a future second-rounder. Vegas will also get a future third-round draft pick as part of the deal.

If Vegas' first-round pick in 2022 is not a top-10 selection, the Sabres will get a 2022 first-rounder and a 2023 second-rounder, with Vegas getting a 2023 third-rounder. If Vegas' first-round pick in 2022 is a top-10 selection, Buffalo will get a 2023 first-rounder and a 2024 second-rounder, with the Golden Knights getting a 2024 third-rounder.

No salary is retained by Buffalo in the deal, sources told ESPN.

The Calgary Flames were also deep into talks with Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams this week, sources told ESPN.

"The price was high for him, obviously, in terms of what we have sent to Buffalo, but at the same time for a player of this ilk, it should be high,'' Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said in a news conference Thursday. "For me, when you look at what an NHL contending team should look like, he's really an important piece of that.''

Eichel, 25, was the No. 2 overall pick by Buffalo in 2015. He is in the fourth year of an eight-year, $80 million contract -- and in the last year before a full no-movement clause kicks in next summer. However, his relationship soured with Buffalo last season over a disagreement over how to treat a herniated disk in his neck.

The Sabres preferred that Eichel undergo fusion surgery, as an artificial 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.

McCrimmon made it clear that the Knights will allow Eichel to have his preferred choice of surgery.

"The decision of the surgery is one that we respectfully defer to Jack and his representatives,'' McCrimmon said. "Why wouldn't his people want what's best for him?''

Buffalo stripped Eichel of his captaincy, and he has been on injured reserve this season. In six seasons in Buffalo, Eichel scored 355 points in 375 career games.

Adams declined to say whether Eichel requested a trade, but he alluded to the fact that the situation had reached a breaking point.

"He shared with me that he was ready to ...'' Adams said Thursday, without finishing the sentence. He then added: "It was a frustration for him, and it all built over time, and that's where he got to.''

After his surgery, Eichel is expected to be cleared to skate in six weeks, but it is a minimum of three months until he will be cleared for contact. That timeline would put his return until at least after the All-Star break, and it likely eliminates him from competing in the 2022 Olympics for Team USA.

The Golden Knights (4-5) have already been depleted by injuries this season, with five players on injured reserve, not including William Karlsson, who is out indefinitely with a broken foot.

The Sabres added players to a young, rebuilding team that is off to a far better start than expected at 5-3-1 under first-year coach Don Granato.

"What I felt strongly about was we were not going to be backed into a corner or feel that we were going to make a deal that we did not feel right for us regardless of any external pressure, or anything being said,'' Adams said.

Tuch is sidelined until January after having shoulder surgery this offseason. The hard-hitting winger has 61 goals and 78 assists for 139 points in 249 career gams. Krebs is a 2019 first-round pick who has one assist in 13 career NHL games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.