Buffalo Sabres still aiming to re-sign Jack Eichel before season

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 21: Jack Eichel
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 21: Jack Eichel /

What are the chances of Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill signing Jack Eichel to a contract extension, before the regular season begins?

In theory, if the Buffalo Sabres are unable to sign Jack Eichel to a contract extension before the start of the new season, it’s not an issue. At least that’s what Eichel himself said recently, as reported by John Vogl of The Buffalo News:

"“I have no problem playing the year out. If that happens, it happens.”"

In addition, the 20-year-old is adamant he wants to remain in Buffalo long-term. He still has one season left on his entry-level contract and worst case scenario, he would become a restricted free agent next summer.

And yet, it still feels like it would be best for everyone concerned, if the situation is resolved sooner than later. In that respect, it is no surprise to hear Jason Botterill is doing everything possible to re-sign Eichel now.

The Buffalo Sabres general manager discussed the current situation with WGR 550‘s Pat Malacaro on Monday. Botterill said:

"“We’ll continue to talk. I have a great relationship with his agency. Jack’s focusing on the season, but we’ll continue to work. Bottom line is both parties really want to get a deal done. I feel very very confident that we will get a deal done in the near future.”"

The former Sabres winger added that he is does not believe the negotiations will be a distraction for Eichel. Again though, you know all parties would prefer to have a new deal signed before the puck drops on Oct. 6, against the Montreal Canadiens.

Botterill’s comments are a good sign, especially considering the thoughts of Eichel’s agent, just last week. At the time, he told WKBW’s Matthew Bove that contract talks had died down between the two sides, and the 2015 second overall draft pick was planning to play without a new deal.

Of course, we appreciate this is often part of a sports agent’s negotiating tactics, to publicly declare a client’s intentions and put pressure on a team. And as usual, it’s all about money.

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We can pretty much assume both sides want to sign Eichel for the NHL maximum of eight years, but for how much? You know this must be the main sticking point, otherwise a new contract would have already been agreed.

In terms of a barometer, the North Chelmsford, Massachusetts native isn’t going to get as much as the $12.5 million per season Connor McDavid will get. He should also get more than the $7.5 million Ryan O’Reilly is paid per season, as the highest earner on the Sabres’ roster.

Most speculation points towards Eichel earning between $8 and $10 million per season. Our educated guess is $9 million would be a good compromise for both sides, in terms of financially rewarding the player and still having acceptable cap room to build a strong team award him.

Overall, it will be interesting to see how these negotiations play out and, more to the point, how long they take. To get something agreed before the start of the regular season could be just the boost the Buffalo Sabres need, as they aim to end a playoff drought which currently stands at six years.

Next: Sabres season preview - Goalies

How concerned would you be, if Eichel entered the new season without a contract extension? Or do you agree with the sentiment that it is no big deal? Further, how much do you predict he will earn per season, once a new deal is agreed? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.