One of the most anticipated nights in the 2016 NHL season is finally here. The top two overall picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft will finally face off against each other for the first time in their young NHL careers. Both rookies have had very impressive seasons to this point.
The Edmonton Oilers are once again the laughing stock of the NHL. Despite all of their first overall picks (four since 2010), the Oilers still lack many key parts that will make their team a winner. No veteran leadership, no depth forwards, very few proven quality NHL defenseman and poor goaltending…the list goes on. The Oilers currently rank 29th in league standings and are showing no signs of improving anytime soon.
The Sabres on the other hand have also had a disappointing season. Currently sitting at 26th in league standings, the Sabres will be drafting in the top five for the third straight season.
Unlike the Oilers, the Sabres are heading in the right direction under head coach Dan Bylsma. Brian Gionta, Ryan O’Reilly and Josh Gorges have provided solid veteran leadership for the group of young players currently on the roster.
When it comes to defense, Buffalo is in good hands with Rasmus Ristolainen having a breakout season, and former first round pick Mark Pysyk and former second rounder Jake McCabe developing quite nicely. Although the Sabres are in the basement once again in the NHL, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For both teams, one bright spot this season has been the play of both McDavid and Eichel. In 27 games, Mcdavid has ten goals, 19 assists and 29 points. His electrifying speed and vision put him a step ahead of the game. The former Erie Otter has lived up to the hype thus far, and despite missing 37 games, could make an outside run at the race for the Calder Trophy as the leagues top rookie.
Despite struggling of late, the second overall pick Jack Eichel has been very impressive in his rookie season. In 63 games, the Boston University product has notched 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. Eichel has speed that most defenseman can’t contain, and an extremely accurate shot. He currently ranks third in rookie scoring.
Tonight’s matchup will be a must watch in Buffalo. Two of the leagues young guns will be facing each other in what will be the first of many anticipated matchups throughout their careers. Although both McDavid and Eichel aren’t making a big deal of this game, it will no doubt live up to the hype.