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Sabres' Eichel eager to assert himself, says he has a 'lot to prove'

Jack Eichel has been the face of the Sabres' franchise for two years. He finished 11th in the NHL in points per game last season.

He also went back to Boston in early April and watched hockey on television.

"I have a lot to prove," Eichel said Thursday as the Sabres reported to training camp. "Actually, I think I've proven nothing. It's a huge year for me personally and as a team. We want to obviously take the next step as a team, and I think for us to do that we need some guys to take the next step as players, and I need to be one of them.

"I just need to step up around the room, on the ice, big situations for our team, do more and prove that I can be our go-to-guy."

Eichel is already the go-to guy. Despite missing the opening 21 games with a high-ankle sprain, he led Buffalo with 57 points and was second with 24 goals. He had 24 goals and 56 points as a rookie in 2015-16.

"If you look at what I've done, it hasn't been a whole lot: two mediocre seasons on a losing team," Eichel said in KeyBank Center. "We just need to be better as a group this year, and I think everyone went home with the right mindset that we wanted to get better and head into this season, hit the ground running."

The 20-year-old is eager to assert his dominance and, by extension, put the Sabres among the NHL's playoff teams.

"It's the third year, so if there's ever a time to start winning and be a good team in this league it's right now," Eichel said. "All the guys are pretty sick of losing and not playing in the playoffs. I don't think I'm the only guy. I think I can speak for a lot of guys in the room that we've got to be there at the end of the year.

"You've got to be a playoff team, and it starts now. That's the ultimate goal. You want to be there at the end of the year. You want to be playing in the postseason. I think this city, this team, this organization is starved for it."

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