While many fans look to the Buffalo Sabres offseason as a success, team star Jack Eichel is just as excited about the team’s moves. The 24-year-old expressed frustration with the Sabres’ team and made it clear the Sabres were in need of more veteran players. The team did just that under new general manager Kevyn Adams, who brought in a number of experienced players, including Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Cody Eakin to bolster their forward depth.
“I know the league is trying to go younger, but I think that you still need those older guys, the veteran guys, the guys that have been there and won,” said Eichel in an interview with Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski. “I think you need them in your locker room, first of all, and you need them on the ice. We’ve definitely been young. We’ve been in a transition for a few years now. There’s always young guys coming through the organization and you want to see everyone have success, but you look at the transformation that our team made this offseason.”
Eichel, who has not been to the playoffs in his entire career, as Buffalo hasn’t reached the playoffs in nine years, has seen a number of veteran players moved out such as Ryan O’Reilly and Eichel’s friend Zach Bogosian in favor of bringing in younger players. However, Eichel is enthusiastic of the direction of the team this season.
“It’s so hard to win when you’re young,” said Eichel. “I think it’s so important to have that veteran presence in the room and on the ice, so I think it was good for us to add that this offseason. We’ll see what happens.”
- The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle (subscription required) debate whether the Toronto Maple Leafs can retain some of their other soon-to-be free agents, including goaltender Frederik Andersen, defenseman Morgan Rielly and forward Zach Hyman. While all three are not likely to be retained due to the team’s continual cap problems in the future, both writers agreed that the slam dunk signing would be Hyman, whose hard-working attitude and competitive culture that he sets in the locker room are critical to bringing back down the road. Of course, both writers did add that much of those hopes will come down to whether Hyman, now 28 and coming off two 20-goal seasons, will be willing to accept a minor home-town discount to stay. If he’s looking to cash in, that could force the team to go in a different direction.
- While many people are beginning to see hope in Ottawa with some of their offseason moves this offseason as well as the development of their youth, The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian (subscription required) writes that the Senators could find themselves at quite a disadvantage next season assuming they end up in an all-Canadian division next season. Ottawa struggled against their Canadian counterparts, posting a 4-8-2 record, including a minus-12 goal differential against those teams. To make matters worse, most of the Canadian teams have improved during the offseason, which could make Ottawa’s season that much more challenging with no cellar dwellers they can take advantage of.