When the Buffalo Sabres drafted Jack Eichel with the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, fans knew the organization was getting a franchise player. It was quite obvious that Eichel was going to start the season playing in the NHL; however, it was unclear just how much of an impact the Boston University product would have while playing pro hockey at such a young age.
During the 2014-15 season, Eichel was a force to be reckoned with while playing for Boston University. In 40 games, he tallied 26 goals, 45 assists and 75 points, which was good enough to earn him the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s best player.
It didn’t take long for Eichel to make a big splash in the NHL. In his first game as a Buffalo Sabre, he scored a beautiful power play goal, top shelf where momma hides the cookies! His electrifying speed and accurate shot were on full display, as Sabres fans got a glimpse at just how good this kid will be.
At just 19 years of age, Eichel has great size that will make him a difficult player to defend in all areas on the ice. At 6’2” and 201 lbs, Eichel isn’t afraid to back down from defenders in the corners, as he is willing to do what it takes to win the small battles shift after shift.
Speed is what makes Eichel such an illusive player at all ends of the rink. His long strides really help him accelerate out of his own end and while making rushes with the puck. Opposing defenders often can’t handle the rookie’s speed, especially in the offensive zone.
When he doesn’t have the puck, Eichel always anticipates where the play is going to go, and often finds himself in the right place. His vision and hockey sense are second to none, and this is what will put him into the elite group of players in the coming years for a long time.
Early on this season, Eichel struggled to find the score sheet at times; however, this has changed drastically during the second half of the season. Since December 17th, he has appeared in 27 games, recording 8 goals and 19 assists for 27 points. On the season, Eichel has played in all of the Sabres 59 games, scoring a total of 17 goals, and 24 assists, good enough for 41 points.
As we reach the final quarter of the season, the Sabres are once again out of a playoff spot. Despite another disappointing season, there is reason to believe as we are coming closer to the offseason. The play of Eichel and fellow rookie Sam Reinhart have Sabres fans looking forward to next season already.
Sabres fans will be in for quite the ride over the next decade with Eichel leading the way. It has been incredible to see what he can do at just 19 years of age. Times seemed so dark and rough for the Sabres organization the past couple of seasons, but with Jack Eichel on board, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.