Our annual Top 25 Under 25 series serves to find the best young players in the Buffalo Sabres organization, be it NHL, AHL, European or junior leagues. We voted on everyone from Asplund to Willman, and the best 25 players get profiled throughout the month of September. Today's subject: Jack Eichel.
Jack Eichel, C
Age: 20 Height: 6’2’’ Weight: 201 lb
Was there ever any doubt?
The fact that every single person reading this article knew exactly who would top the list at #1 within two seconds of us announcing this series should tell you everything you need to know about the ceiling of a second-year player like Jack Eichel.
Drafted #2 overall last year, Eichel brings the total package to the ice. Speed, skill, strength, vision, shot, work ethic, creativity and leadership just come oozing out of Eichel’s pores, and given all that talent with a good head on his shoulders and good role models around him, #15 seems destined for greatness in the NHL.
Last year, Eichel’s primary reason for the season was simply to get adjusted to the NHL schedule and competition. There times where it was clear the youngster had hit the wall, but he always bounced back nicely. This year, Eichel will be tasked with taking that next step towards superstardom. More consistent production, leadership on and off the ice, and more defensive awareness and responsibility will help lead him there.
Eichel himself agrees, telling The Buffalo News:
“Last year, I feel like I was dipping my toes in a little bit,” Eichel said. “I expect more out of myself. I think everybody does as well. This is Year Two, and I just want to be better every day and more consistent.”
“If I can be a little harder to play against, be a little more physical, I think that will open up some room for me,” Eichel said. “The goals, assists and personal success will come after working hard. I think that physicality part of my game can get up a little bit. Being harder to play against in our own end and just being a little tougher will help me on the offensive side of things.”
Eichel and our #2 player on this list, Sam Reinhart, are doing everything together - they’re playing on the same line and sharing a place downtown, but they also have similar goals - to become one of the NHL’s best duos. It may not happen this year, but with their talent and work ethic, I’d bet on Jack and Sam reaching those goals, and scoring plenty of them along the way.