With the Buffalo Sabres having the second overall pick in June’s NHL Draft, many people have Boston University’s Jack Eichel being selected by the Sabres. No matter what decision Eichel makes, both he and the Sabres will benefit any which way.
Boston University came close to winning the NCAA Championship as it reached the Frozen Four. According to the Buffalo News Eichel was already selected as an assistant captain for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. So, if Eichel were to stay he would be the man on the team, expected to lead them to a NCAA Championship and have a ton of pressure on him, which is experience that he wouldn’t get this season with the Sabres.
Before the Sabres gutted their core players, they earned a reputation as a soft team that crumbled when under pressure. The teams that win the Stanley Cup are teams that can deal with the pressure and persevere under it.
Now, don’t get me wrong as I’m not saying leaving Boston University wouldn’t be good for him either.
If Eichel were to leave for the Sabres he would be immediately paired with a certain player that is already on the roster. That player is nobody other than Brian Gionta.
Gionta in college won the NCAA Championship as captain of Boston College for the 2000-2001 season. He then won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003 and just last year led the Montreal Canadiens to the Easter Conference Finals where they lost to the New York Rangers in six games. So, if Eichel were to leave he would be in good hands either which way.
As for the Sabres, if they were to get Eichel they obvious get a top notch player ready for the NFL that would vault the team towards making the NHL Playoffs. If Eichel were to stay at Boston University, then they would get to find out about some other prospects.
Forwards Johan Larsson and Mikhail Grigorenko have been languishing in the AHL for the last several seasons. With the trades the Sabres made at the deadline, along with injuries, both players got significant playing time with the team. Grigorenko scored two goals and two assists in the last 10 games while Larson had two goals and five assists.
Those aren’t great numbers, but they don’t account for the numerous opportunities that they created for their teammates that they didn’t capitalize on.
Let’s not forget 2014 second overall pick Sam Reinhart. The only thing that is keeping Reinhart from the NHL is his strength. However, with the season over Reinhart should have no trouble improving on that before the next season comes.
The NHL is a team sport and if one man could improve a whole team then the Edmonton Oilers would have won the Stanley Cup multiple times as they had the first overall pick from 2010-2012. The last time they were in the playoffs was the 2005-2006 season when they went to the Stanley Cup finals. Let’s not forget about the Pittsburgh Penguins who have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and still not made the playoffs this year.
In the end, Eichel is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.