Jack Eichel is awesome.
The Buffalo Sabres center is an elite offensive player and is exactly what teams look for in a No. 1 center, franchise cornerstone-type of player. The No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft entered the league with expectations and has mostly met them. He's tallied 351 points in 371 career games.
The Sabres haven't made the playoffs since 2011 and this season won't result in that streak of disappointment ending.
If Eichel wants a trade out of Buffalo, or if the Sabres choose to move him and stockpile assets for their ongoing rebuild, the Boston Bruins should be one of the first teams to call.
Eichel is from North Chelmsford, Mass., and would be an ideal fit for the Bruins right now and into the future. The 24-year-old superstar could carry the B's into the next era when Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci are no longer top players or leave the team.
The real question is, what would the Bruins have to pay to acquire Eichel?
The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa explored the idea of an Eichel trade earlier this week. He wrote that "The most equitable conversation would begin with Pastrnak or Charlie McAvoy, both of whom the Bruins adore."
Shinzawa also quoted a source saying, "“I think you’re looking at McAvoy and Frederic, probably minimum,” said the source. “Minimum.”
This is where the Bruins should say no.
McAvoy is the team's most important player, excluding goalies. He's having an awesome season and it wouldn't be surprising if he finished top five in the Norris Trophy voting. The Boston University product is a legit No. 1 defenseman, the kind of player whom teams highly covet and often spend many years trying to find and develop.
The best Bruins teams in their 100-year history have been built around an elite defenseman. McAvoy has all the talent to be that guy, and signing him to a long-term contract needs to be one of Boston's priorities in the short term.
What about Pastrnak?
Normally, you would prefer a first-line center over a first-line winger, given the nature of the center position. However, Pastrnak is in that top tier of wingers who you would actually take over many of the elite centers.
Pastrnak has scored 57 goals in his last 82 games. He's also tallied 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in just 12 games this season. When you look at the top five most offensively-skilled players, he's definitely in that group. Pastrnak also is signed to an extremely team-friendly contract with a $6.67 million salary cap hit for the next two years.
We also know Pastrnak can produce in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he's posted 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 52 career games.
One of the problems for the Bruins when it comes to trading for top players is they don't have any elite prospects to give up. They also don't have any elite rookies on entry-level contracts. Top prospect Jack Studnicka has a promising future, but he's not going to be the centerpiece of a trade for an established star.
The Sabres absolutely should ask for Pastrnak or McAvoy, plus other strong trade assets in any potential talks with the Bruins. Buffalo, if it's going to trade Eichel, has to extract the most value possible for a young superstar who won't hit free agency until the summer of 2026.
It would be great for the Bruins and their fans if Eichel came to Boston, but it shouldn't be at the expense of McAvoy or Pastrnak. If the B's can make a deal work without giving up those two players, that would be ideal. It's just hard to envision that happening.