Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel perplexed by another lost season

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 23: Jack Eichel
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 23: Jack Eichel /

The Buffalo Sabres are once again one of the worst teams in the NHL, and star center Jack Eichel can’t believe it.

If there was still any doubt regarding Jack Eichel‘s talent, he provided the perfect response on Monday night. With two goals, he helped the Buffalo Sabres end the Toronto Maple Leafs’ home winning streak at 13 goals.

However, as impressive as the victory was over a team headed to the playoffs, it was also bittersweet. After all, the Sabres are meant to be in a similar position to the Leafs, when it comes to their rebuild.

Instead, the Sabres find themselves at the bottom of the standings, in both the Eastern Conference and the league as a whole. And Eichel can’t believe it:

"“When I got drafted, if you would’ve said we’d be in this position, I probably would’ve told you to give your head a shake,” Eichel told The Associated Press, as reported by TSN."

The 21-year-old’s disbelief is entirely understandably. After helping the Sabres reach 81 points in his first season, they were only expected to go in one direction; up.

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Making this optimism even more feasible, was the talent which was alongside Eichel; players such as Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo and the recently departed Evander Kane. Instead, the Swords had 78 points the following season and will finish with even less this year.

As a result, the Sabres are once again headed to the draft lottery, which will take place on Apr. 28. As per the revised odds, they will finish with anywhere between a 18.5-7.5 percent chance of winning the first overall pick in this year’s draft.

And while this would offer the Swords the chance to add another top talent, this is scant consolation for Eichel. In fact, his frustration is only intensified when considering other teams around the league:

"“You look at Colorado and some of these teams, New Jersey, that make a quick turnaround and all of a sudden they’re in the playoff hunt,” Eichel said, again speaking to The Associated Press."

At least there is some hope on the horizon in the shape of Casey Mittelstadt, who makes his NHL debut on Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. As for Eichel himself, he’s on course for new personal bests in goals, assists and overall points.

However, as the 2015 second overall draft pick is now aware, he can’t turn the franchise around on his own, no matter how talented he is. As such, all he can do is continue to lead by example and hope other players follow, especially as he’s going to be in Western New York for a long time to come.

Eichel’s eight-year, $80 million contract extension kicks in next season. And fair or not, his reputation will be determined by how much success the Sabres experience over that time.

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What’s your take on the 2017/18 campaign? How much confidence do you have in the Buffalo Sabres finally turning around their fortunes next season? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.