Five teams in on Rangers target Jack Eichel, who was reportedly close to being traded

Jack Eichel skating in white uniform

The Jack Eichel saga continues in Buffalo, but it almost came to an end last week, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.

As of last Thursday, she noted that teams had “serious optimism” the Sabres would finally trade the disgruntled 24-year-old All-Star, who has been connected to the Rangers.

“Behind the scenes, the NHL and NHLPA have intervened and pushed things along,” Kaplan said. “They don’t like this stalemate. Jack Eichel is now sharing his medicals with teams, and I was told as of Thursday, there was serious optimism that a trade was imminent.

“As we stand now, there are five teams still in on Jack Eichel and those are teams that they believe they can fit his $10 million salary into their cap situation and maybe that means moving some contracts or whatever. All of those teams agreed, though, that Jack Eichel will get the disc replacement surgery that he wants that the Sabres will not have him.”

That last part is the kicker here: Eichel has wanted to get this disc replacement surgery and the Sabres, who Eichel lost trust in because of his neck injury, didn’t want him getting it. He also failed his physical in advance of training camp.

It would make him miss a good chunk of the season — there’s a 3-4 month recovery period following the surgery. However, someone of Eichel’s talent and age is worth waiting.

Earlier this offseason, USA TODAY’s Vince Mercogliano reported that Rangers president and GM Chris Drury was unlikely to budge on adding certain players to a package for Eichel.

The Sabres reportedly wanted “at least four pieces that would be equivalent of first-rounders.” But that could change now, especially considering the NHL and NHLPA are getting involved.

Eichel still has $50 million remaining on his contract over the next five years.