Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres are moving toward a solution regarding treatment for the center’s injured neck, his agent told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The Sabres captain and Buffalo have not agreed on treatment for a herniated disk that ended his season in March. Eichel has expressed interest in surgery; the Sabres have said their doctors aren’t comfortable with a procedure that has not been performed on an NHL player, preferring an approach of rest and rehab.
“We are communicating with the team and are heading toward a resolution,” agent Peter Fish told the AP in a text.
Earlier Thursday, Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said he spoke with Eichel’s representatives.
“I think yesterday I spent a long time on the phone with Jack’s agents, had a great conversation,” Adams said.
“… As I’ve said many times before, I’m certainly not a doctor. Our stance hasn’t changed in where we’re at. It’s in the hands of the medical experts.”
The 24-year-old has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason after his public dissatisfaction with Buffalo’s on-ice results and the difference of opinion over his medical situation. The Sabres (15-34-7) were last in the NHL standings this season, which included an 18-game streak without a win, an NHL record. They have not reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2010-11, five seasons before Eichel’s debut.
Eichel said in May there has been a “disconnect” between him and the organization, specifically about the injury. He scored 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 21 games after scoring 78 (36 goals, 42 assists) in 68 games last season.
“I would say I’ve been a bit upset about the way that things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” Eichel said two days after the Sabres season ended. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. So yeah, I think that there’s been a bit of a disconnect from the organization a bit and myself. It’s been tough at times.”
Eichel isn’t the only Buffalo player who has expressed frustration. Forward Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen each did so at his end-of-season press availability. Each was drafted by the Sabres and has played only for Buffalo.
The Sabres won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, which will be held July 23-24.
“We need to establish a culture here of people on the ice, staff, across the organization that are proud,” Adams said. “That there’s something really special [here], that they get up every day and have this opportunity to be a Buffalo Sabre. That’s a really important piece.”
NHL.com staff writer Amalie Benjamin contributed to this report