LAS VEGAS — Forward Jack Eichel said Monday he is relieved the blockbuster trade that sent him from the Buffalo Sabres to the Vegas Golden Knights is behind him and he is looking forward to being on the ice with his new team, even though it may take about three months.

Eichel will have his preferred choice of surgery for his neck injury Friday and is thankful the Golden Knights have been supportive of the procedure he feuded with the Sabres over, triggering discontent with the organization.

Eichel said he hopes the NHL and NHL Players’ Association will provide players more rights in determining how to treat injuries, while he acknowledged frustration in the delay in being able to get his procedure. He will have his herniated disk artificially replaced, something the Sabres denied because the procedure had never been performed on an NHL player. He lost nearly an entire season due to the stalemate over the treatment.

“I think my situation shined light on maybe some things that could be changed, and I hope that they are in the future,” Eichel said. “I don’t necessarily agree with the team having the full say in what to do with medical treatment. I think it should be a collaboration.”

Eichel is in the fourth season of an eight-year, $80 million contract. He topped 20 goals in each of his first five seasons and enjoyed a breakout year in 2019-20, when he had a career-best 36 goals in 68 games before the season was abruptly halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, he had 139 goals and 216 assists in 375 career games with Buffalo.

The Golden Knights acquired the 25-year-old Thursday in exchange for forward Alex Tuch, rookie center Peyton Krebs and two draft picks.

Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon made it clear he was in favor of Eichel having his preferred 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?”

Eichel, whose recovery is expected to take about three months, said he has thoroughly researched the procedure and doesn’t believe it makes him an expensive or risky investment for a team looking to make a deep playoff run.

“I think there’s been maybe a narrative created that I was going out and doing something that’s never been done to a hockey player, but this is an FDA-approved surgery that’s been around for a long time,” Eichel said. “My surgeon started doing it in the early 2000s, so he’s been doing it for 20 years. I feel very, very confident in what I’m doing.”

“There’s been other players who have dealt with herniated disks in other ways. But from what I’ve gathered, speaking of them, they really were never given the option. And I feel very fortunate that my second opinion gave me this option to look at maybe a superior surgery. And I just went out and did as much research to learn as much as I could about it. And I feel very, very confident that I’m making the right decision, and everyone else that I’ve spoken to feels very good about it,” he said. “So, you know, I know it’s going to work out and I’m going to be back playing. And I can put this all behind us.”

MONDAY’S GAMES

CAPITALS 5, SABRES 3: Alex Ovechkin scored his 741st career goal to tie Brett Hull for fourth on the NHL’s all-time list, and helped Washington win at home.

Tom Wilson added two goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov contributed his ninth, 10th and 11th assists as the Capitals snapped a three-game losing streak.

Ovechkin also assisted two goals, including Wilson’s first, which gave Washington an early lead it never relinquished. Connor McMichael and John Carlson also scored, and Vitek Vanecek made 20 saves for the Capitals.

Cody Eakin, Anders Bjork and Colin Miller scored for the Sabres, who suffered a fifth consecutive defeat, with four of those coming in regulation. Dustin Tokarski had 25 saves.

RANGERS 4, PANTHERS 3: Igor Shesterkin made a season-high 42 saves and New York held off visiting Florida, handing the Panthers their first loss in regulation this season.

Chris Kreider and Adam Fox each had a goal in the first period before K’Andre Miller and Ryan Strome scored 30 seconds apart in the second as New York built a 4-0 lead after two.

Eetu Luostarinen scored 20 seconds into the third for Florida (10-1-1), poking in the puck for his fourth goal of the season. Sam Reinhart made it 4-2 at 18:34 with this third before Patric Hornqvist scored at 19:20 to make it a one-goal game.

The Panthers tried for the tying goal with goalie Spencer Knight pulled for an extra skater, but Shesterkin made one more key save in the waning seconds.

Shesterkin, facing the Panthers for the first time in his career, earned his sixth win this season and second straight at home. He blanked Columbus 4-0 on Oct. 29 and is 8-0-0 in his career when making at least 40 saves.

KINGS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 1: Jonathan Quick made 33 saves and visiting Los Angeles snapped Toronto’s five-game win streak.

Phillip Danault had two goals and an assist for Los Angeles, which won its fifth straight. Andreas Athanasiou added a goal and assist, former Leafs forward Trevor Moore scored and Adrian Kempe chipped in with an empty-netter. Alex Iafallo had two two assists.

John Tavares scored for Toronto. Jack Campbell, who was Quick’s understudy with the Kings for parts of two seasons, made 24 stops in his first career start against his former team.


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