As Buffalo Sabres fans continue to pull their hair out waiting for a Jack Eichel extension, the man himself wants to calm the fan base down. From Bill Hoppe of Buffalo Hockey Beat, Eichel was clear about his intentions to stay with the Sabres.
I have no problem playing the year out…I’m pretty adamant on staying a Sabre and staying in Buffalo.
I want to bring some excitement to this town and the contract thing will take care of itself.
That meshes with the latest reports that an extension might not be reached before training camp begins, but instead of panic over his future with the club fans should feel confident their superstar is committed long-term. Eichel is on the final year of his entry-level contract and was eligible for an extension on July 1st, but might want to wait for his own breakout season before signing anything.
Injured for much of last year, Eichel doesn’t have the eye-popping numbers that many expected when he was taken second-overall behind Connor McDavid in 2015. While he’s still scored 113 points in 142 games, he’s seemingly been passed over in many minds by Auston Matthews as the second-best young player in the league. When he has been healthy though, Eichel has shown that he could be a devastatingly effective offensive player, easily capable of scoring at a point-per-game rate over the next few years. It’s unlikely that playing the year out would do anything to hurt his long-term value, but he could prove that he deserves an extension approaching $10MM per season if he put together a healthy productive year.
It’s clear that the Sabres are on the same page, with GM Jason Botterill recently saying they wanted to lock up Eichel for eight seasons. He’s the face of the franchise going forward, and it would be incredibly unlikely for a new contract to not be finished at some point before the start of the 2018-19 season. It might just have to wait until next year.