Jack Eichel has eaten the wings. He’s met the fans. He’s had tours of the Sabres’ facilities.
The big question is: Has his week in Buffalo convinced him to play in the NHL next season rather than go back to Boston University?
“I still have a lot of people to talk to,” Eichel said Friday. “It’s definitely a tough decision to make. I haven’t been drafted yet, so hopefully after the draft.”
The Sabres will select him second overall June 26 in Florida, and they’ll eagerly await the answer.
“If it ends up that my heart tells me that I want to move on and try to play in the NHL, then that’s what I’m going to do,” he said in HarborCenter. “If my heart says I want to go back to BU, then that’s what I’m going to do.
“There’s pros and cons of both situations. That’s going to make my decision pretty tough. I don’t want to be playing professionally if I want to be back in college with BU. I don’t want be at BU if I prefer to be playing professionally.”
In just one collegiate season, the 18-year-old has accomplished nearly everything possible in the NCAA. He proved he was the best player, becoming just the second freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award. He led his team to the Frozen Four. The Terriers lost, though, possibly leaving Eichel with unfinished business.
However, the center is also eager to prove he’s the best player in the 2015 Draft. Connor McDavid got the No. 1 nod from NHL Central Scouting and will go first overall to Edmonton. Eichel told teams during his interviews this week that he’s the best.
He seemed surprised that it became a story – and that it got leaked. Sabres General Manager Tim Murray was among those who spread the news, talking about it Thursday evening on WGR-AM 550.
“I’m pretty confident in my abilities,” Eichel said. “That wasn’t me comparing myself to Connor or anything like that. It was more of me thinking that I’m the best player in the draft. It’s more of just confidence in my own self.
“I didn’t really think that was a big deal. I thought that was pretty confidential within the team.”
Eichel arrived in town Monday. Knowing that Buffalo is likely his future home, he’s taken the time to explore.
“Everyone talks about Buffalo’s chicken wings, and I got a chance to enjoy those,” he said. “It’s been pretty good. I’m just getting a feel for the city, meeting a lot of people. Obviously, everyone’s really welcoming here with the likelihood of me coming to Buffalo.”