The National Hockey League and its fans are finally starting to take notice what the Buffalo Sabres have known all along - Jack Eichel is very clearly not inferior to NHL Draft number one picks Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.
Eichel is currently on an eleven-game points streak, tied for second longest in the NHL this season and one game behind the best by Mikael Granlund. The Sabres record is sixteen games, held by perpetual whipping boy Tim Connolly from the 2009-10 season.
With the Sabres’ chances of making the playoffs all but over, it was easy to forget how good a season the 2015 #2 Draft pick was having as a 20-year-old in the NHL. The data in the chart shown is from over a week ago, and since that time Eichel has now climbed up to fourth in this list with 0.98 pts/game.
Jack Eichel's kinda quietly putting up one of the best seasons by a 20 year old in the last decade, on a lousy team. pic.twitter.com/G6MNpejNOD— Draglikepull (@draglikepull) February 27, 2017
The comparisons with McDavid are inevitable, and though the Edmonton Oilers forward is looking likely to win the Art Ross Trophy for the highest points scorer in the regular season, Eichel’s injury-shortened season has been on par.
Hockey analysts and journalists are paying attention as well, and this statistical look at Eichel’s value to the side is eye-opening, even to Sabres fans.
Nobody is producing at a higher rate than Jack Eichel, the best transition player in the NHL and perhaps the most valuable to his team. pic.twitter.com/HtaETnQ27o— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) March 8, 2017
One of the most telling statements in this report is this -
“Everything the Sabres do offensively goes through Eichel. The best way to articulate this is to outline their transition game with him on the ice. Eichel carries the puck out of his own zone with possession 6 times per game, which ranks 1st in the NHL.
“As far as entering the attacking zone is concerned, Eichel carries it in 8 times per game which also ranks 1st.
“What does this tell us? Eichel skates it out and into the attacking end at a higher rate than any player in the league. He’s the best transition forward in the NHL.”
Eichel also got his 100th point for the Sabres on Tuesday night, making him the third-fastest in team history to get to the mark, only behind Pierre Turgeon and Phil Housley. You also have to calibrate that statement by remembering that the other two played in the offense-laden ‘80s, which only makes Eichel look even better.
Jack Eichel tonight became the 3rd-youngest player in Sabres history to reach 100 career points, behind only Pierre Turgeon & Phil Housley. pic.twitter.com/QU9FyGwTAe— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 8, 2017
In closing, this might be a crappy season for the Buffalo Sabres yet again, but Jack Eichel is on pace for a season that will definitely enter the history books.