Buffalo Sabres News: Jack Eichel Expects to Make Immediate Impact


Buffalo Sabres News: Jack Eichel Expects to Make Immediate Impact

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While few things are certain in life (expect for death, taxes and Buffalo sports fans being made to suffer), Jack Eichel will be selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the number two pick in the upcoming draft. The NHL’s annual extravaganza takes place on June 26-27, at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

Not quite as certain, is whether Eichel will turn professional once he has been picked by the Sabres. For his part, the North Chelmsford, Massachusetts native has already decided, but just hasn’t made it public knowledge yet.

Eichel spoke about his plans with the media, including Mike G. Morreale of nhl.com: “I mean, I’m kind of set on what I want to do, but I guess you’ll find out in the few days that follow the draft.

“I sat down and had dinner with (Boston University coach) David Quinn and spoke with my parents…I have a good idea of where I want to be next year.”

Apr 11, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Buffalo Sabres prospective draft pick Boston University Terriers forward Jack Eichel (9) tries to get past Providence College Friars defenseman Jake Walman (19) and a loose stick during the first period of the championship game of the Frozen Four college ice hockey tournament at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming the 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner does turn pro right away, he says he will be playing in the NHL from day one. In fact, he was giving such assurances by the Sabres organization.

As Eichel told Stephen Harris of bostonherald.com: “If I’m signing, it’s not to leave school and go play major junior.

“If I sign, it’s to play in the NHL the whole year. That’s the only way I’ll sign. And Buffalo has already explained to me that that would be the case.”

Of course, it’s natural for there to be some concerns about his ability to make an immediate impact in the NHL. No matter how you look at it, Eichel will be moving up a level and playing regularly with the big boys.

However, at least one Massachusetts Division 1 college coach doesn’t expect any issues, as they told Harris: “He’s a generational talent.

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“The things that would normally be tough from an adjustment standpoint for an 18-year old trying to jump up to the NHL – the strength and the speed – just happen to be some of his biggest assets. I think Buffalo should be pretty excited.”

The coach, who faced Eichel last season, acknowledges it won’t all be plain sailing: “He’s still learning the game, and there’s things he’ll have to continue to improve on.

“(However), he’s just such a tremendous prospect. His skating and playmaking are already at the elite level.”

Sabres fans are most probably even more excited after Eichel’s performances at the IIHF World Championships for Team USA. He had the chance to match up against the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, finishing with seven points (two goals and five assists) in 10 games.

For his part, the center appreciated the opportunity to test himself against top-level talent. “It was huge for me,” Eichel told Harris.

“I learned a lot about myself as a player. It was a great experience.

“Obviously the NHL is little different than that, but with so many NHL players out there, I think it was probably pretty similar…It made me think that I can play in the NHL next season even more than I thought before.”

The biggest thing for Eichel was that it gave him even more confidence that he is ready for the NHL: “Going against guys like Malkin was pretty weird. I was pretty nervous at first.

“But as that game went on and (I) started to play well, I realized I could play with those guys. I gained a lot of confidence in my whole game throughout the tournament.”

When The Buffalo News asked the 2015 NCAA Rookie of the Year to confirm on Wednesday if he was turn pro, he laughed and simply said “no”. However, after his comments about playing at the IIHF World Championships, Eichel certainly sounds like someone who will be playing for the Sabres when the NHL season starts in October.