With all apologies to the still-unsigned Zemgus Girgensons, the biggest story worth watching this summer for Buffalo Sabres fans is the negotiations for a contract extension with the team’s franchise player - Jack Eichel.
Today, reports from both the AP and Sportsnet stated that the two sides have been working on a new deal for about a month now, and that the extension could potentially be for the NHL maximum of eight years.
While some anticipated that Eichel could go for a bridge deal in order to get more money later down the road, the team would be smart to lock him up now for as many years as humanly possible, considering his elite scoring talent places him among the NHL’s most potent offensive weapons. Please, just let us watch Jack Eichel play hockey in Buffalo for the rest of our lives.
This report comes on the heels of a rare Terry Pegula press conference today from the Buffalo Bills training camp. While Pegula refused to comment on many topics, he did say that both Eichel and the team were committed to making a deal. “I can tell you this, we want Jack and Jack wants to be in Buffalo,” said Pegula.
Can't yet pin down how wide of a gap there is between #Sabres-Eichel in contract talks.— John Wawrow (@john_wawrow) August 2, 2017
One person I talked to said not wide.
Of course, there are still some hurdles to clear, as this deal will almost certainly be the biggest contract the Sabres have ever given out. As of now, Ryan O’Reilly’s cap hit of $7.5 million per season paces the roster, and there’s no way that Eichel’s camp will accept anything less than $8 million per season, and are probably asking for more. He won’t get the McDavid number of $12.5 million, but somewhere between $8-10 million seems most likely.
Sealing this deal over the summer will go a long way toward making their fans happy, and towards easing the minds of Sabres executives hoping to lock their best player up to a long-term deal. Make it happen, fellas.