TORONTO -- His six weeks of workouts back home in Boston after development camp are over and Jack Eichel is moving full-speed ahead with his plans for the Buffalo Sabres season.
"I think it's starting to get real," Eichel said today during the NHLPA Rookie Showcase here in Mattamy Athletic Centre, the former Maple Leaf Gardens. "I have to earn my spot on the Sabres, earn everything I get in the next month and a half. Just going into it with an open mind and try to be positive with the whole process. It's an exciting time for me to finally get this all going.
"I'm a big believer nothing is given to you so I have to go out and earn it. Then I guess I'll be able to see where I see my season is going after that."
While things like linemates and ice time will be questions answered during training camp, Eichel has already taken care of one big off-ice issue: He'll be living this season in the Amherst home of veteran winger Matt Moulson.
"He had just reached out to me after congratulating me in the draft. He offered it and I think it's a good move for me," Eichel said. "He's obviously a really good guy who's been around the league so I'm really excited about it. It's a really good fit for me."
Moulson and his wife have two small children under the age of four. Alicia Moulson's sister, Jaclyn, is married to Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. It's certainly possible that Eichel will be living with a guy who could be his linemate from time to time during the season.
"I know that everyone who knows him well says great things about him," Eichel said. "I haven't heard a bad thing about the guy. The way he offered his house to me shows what kind of person he is. He's a really generous guy, a good guy to be around."
Around 40 rookies were on hand for the event, run by the NHL Players Association in conjunction with the Upper Deck card company. The players spent some time on the ice in full uniform for photos and video, with Eichel sporting his blue and gold No. 15 Sabres sweater.
Eichel said he's gained 8-10 pounds this summer through skating and boxing workouts and by focusing on nutrition. Rookie camp opens next week and Eichel said he's excited to think he's just 11 days from playing a game, Buffalo's rookie contest Sept. 12 against New Jersey in First Niagara Center.
"The city of Buffalo, the organization, everyone around the organization is going in with a positive mind," he said. "It's kind of a new look for us as an organization so we're all really excited about the future in Buffalo and I think it's good things to come."