The Buffalo Sabres have signed forward Jack Eichel to an eight-year deal worth a reported $80 million.
The centre was set to be a restricted free agent this summer, so signing him was high on Buffalo’s to-do list. Eichel is in the final year of his entry level contract, which pays out about $925,000 a year plus bonuses.
The Sabres had been talking to Eichel for parts of the summer, but talks had cooled off over the last few weeks. The 20-year-old’s agent stated that business picked up again on Tuesday and we now know how things panned out.
Eichel was always on the books for the Sabres, as he’d agreed to play this season without an extension offer. And his agent stated a desire to take less money in order to free up more fiscal capital for the Sabres, something that may have resulted in his Anze Kopitar-esque pay grade.
Eichel was drafted by Buffalo in 2015, going second behind Connor McDavid. With the Oiler signed to an eight-year deal worth $100 million, the comparisons are inescapable.
Luckily for the Sabres, their player is more concerned about himself than any such discussions.
“Obviously, [McDavid’s] had some great accomplishments early in his career,” Eichel said after McDavid signed his extension with Edmonton. “For me, it’s more about worrying about myself. We’re in two different situations, we play in two different areas, so I’m just trying to worry about Jack Eichel and helping Jack Eichel be the best that he can be.”
And in the end, that’s exactly what the Sabres need. He is notoriously hard on himself and he came out of last season’s 57-point performance with a desire to be better. He was frustrated after missing nearly two months with an ankle injury, but he still finished second on the team in goals with 24.
Even so, Eichel was less than enthused about his performance.
“Actually, I think I’ve proven nothing,” he said after the season. “If you look at what I’ve done, it hasn’t been a whole lot. Two mediocre seasons on a losing team.”
For the Sabres, they believe in their player and this contract settles the issue once and for all. Or at least for the next eight years.