CHICAGO — It remains to be seen if apparently disgruntled defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is a problem for the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room when training camp opens next week. Captain Jack Eichel is like most everybody else: He has no idea what's going to happen.
"I think everyone is expecting him to show up, right? He's under contract. But I can't really comment on that much," Eichel said Friday during the NHL Media Tour. "I'm not Risto. I'm not Jason (GM Jason Botterill), doing Jason's job. If he's in the locker room at camp, part of the team, I think you go about business normally. You want him to be completely bought in and want to be there but I guess we'll see what happens in the next week."
If Ristolainen is in camp, his situation would be the first major hurdle for new coach Ralph Krueger to deal with. Eichel first met Krueger during the world championships in Slovakia in May and has spent the summer having more chats with his new boss.
"My initial impressions were great. I'm really excited to work with him," Eichel said. "I think the first thing that sticks out is the personality. He's somebody you want to be around, you want to be a better person around. He's just such an impressive person. He can talk to you about anything. We've had some great conversations just getting to know him a little bit.
"It's been really good so far and I'm really excited. He's very calculated, very smart. He knows what he wants. He's very understanding."
Eichel is coming off a career-high season of 28 goals and 82 points last season, increasing his total for the third straight year. He hopes to continue on that path.
"You just want to get better. You want to improve on everything from last year," Eichel said. "The big thing for me is to score more goals, find the back of the net more. That's something I want to do. That's one of the goals I had this summer along with other things. Every year you want to improve, be a better leader, be a better teammate. You want to help the team win more games. Whatever it is, I have to do it. If I score more goals, it will help our team."
Eichel on Krueger: "He's somebody you want to be around, want to be a better person around. He's just such an impressive person. He can talk to you about anything. We've had some great conversations ... He's very calculated, very smart. He knows what he wants. #Sabres pic.twitter.com/GqmayxEZ0H
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) September 6, 2019