While the Buffalo Sabres made it fairly obvious that their desire was to select Connor McDavid had they won the NHL Draft Lottery, they instead used the second pick overall at the 2015 NHL Draft to land a player that should lead them for the next decade or more, center Jack Eichel from Boston University.
While it seemed like a season of “anything you can do, I can do better” between Eichel and McDavid, Eichel produced as impressive a list of awards at season’s end as did McDavid. The top trophy, of course, was Eichel being named NCAA Hockey’s top player as the recipient of the 2015 Hobey Baker Award, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished by a freshman since former NHL star Paul Kariya earned that honor in 1993.
Eichel joins a rebuilding Sabres team that already has a few talented pieces in place in the middle. Sam Reinhart, the team’s top pick in 2014, should be the second-line center behind Eichel, and a very good one, for many years, with 2012 first rounder Zemgus Girgensons also rounding into form as a very talented option to fill the role of a third-line pivot.
Eichel stated, “they have a lot of really great players in their organization, and I think everybody in Buffalo wants success, and wants success soon.”
Eichel hasn’t yet announced his intentions for the 2015-16 season, but a return to college hockey seems unlikely at this point. “I guess we’ll find out in a few days,” said Eichel.
“To have this jersey on right now and be part of this organization on is a dream come true,” said Eichel on the draft floor.
Eichel and McDavid were both human highlight reels in 2014-15, with many of Eichel’s top highlights from this past season being included in the video posted below.