About this time last year, Jack Eichel was in Buffalo to kick off his hockey season. He was suiting up for the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game before taking the ice with Boston University for his first, and only, season as a collegiate hockey player.
It’s September and Eichel is once again kicking off his hockey season in Buffalo, this time as the No. 2 pick in the NHL Draft as a member of the Sabres.
He had a goal and an assist in his professional debut with the Sabres in a 3-2 preseason win at Minnesota.
Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said Eichel will not play Wednesday when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in their preseason home opener at First Niagara Center.
Eichel wasn’t too concerned with getting the goal and assist in that first game anyway. Asked if it was good to get “the first” out of the way, his response centered on the team.
“It was exciting for us to get the win,” Eichel said. “It was something we wanted to do, go in to Minnesota and come away with a win. I think it builds confidence for us going forward. It was a really good team win.”
Eichel did not skate Tuesday. None of the players who played Tuesday took to the ice for training camp and Bylsma said with perhaps one or two exceptions none of them will play Wednesday.
Eichel spoke with the media as part of a USA Hockey press conference to discuss the official site visit for Buffalo’s bid to host 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship along with promoting Thursday’s All-American Prospects Game.
Eichel was named the Most Outstanding Player in the game held last year at First Niagara Center.
“Last year for me personally, it was unbelievable,” Eichel said. “The event was a great kick off to my season with college just starting at the beginning of October. It was a good way to begin my year, get some exposure and it’s a great event. Obviously I have a lot of great things to say about Buffalo and that was probably my first time visiting here.
“I think a lot of guys want to come in here and want to make an impression on all the scouts and personnel from the NHL that’s going to be here. I think it’s important for them to come in and just put their best foot forward and work hard and do whatever they do. That’s what I tried to do last year and I was lucky to have a good game.”