There may still be several months until the Buffalo Sabres hit the ice for the 2018-19 NHL regular season, but talks of the Sabres’ captaincy have already hit the Internet.
Mostly, the question is: is Jack Eichel going to be the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres?
Although there hasn’t been any specific news or reports indicating, it certainly seems possible, if not likely, that Eichel could be wearing a ‘C’ on the front of his jersey when October rolls around.
The Sabres didn’t have a formal captain last season, though Eichel was named one of four alternate captains for the season, alongside the now-departed Ryan O’Reilly; Zach Bogosian and Kyle Okposo.
While it’s certainly possible the Sabres go that same route again, it seems there’s a good chance that Eichel could be given the ‘C’ this coming season. If so, he would be the first to captain the team since Brian Gionta several seasons ago, and would join the ranks of players like Chris Drury, Pat LaFontaine and Gilbert Perreault.
To many fans, the Sabres are already ‘Eichel’s team,’ even if the captaincy isn’t official. His leadership on and off the ice has been reflected upon many times, and his offensive output, while not a necessary component of a captain, is certainly welcomed in Buffalo.
Sabres' GM Jason Botterill said Jack Eichel matured a lot this year and they view him as a big leader for this team.— Heather Prusak (@haprusak) April 11, 2018
Botterill also says more players have to step up from that standpoint and "can't sit in the background anymore." @WGRZ pic.twitter.com/Ufcq2QWr9o
Even after this past dismal season, Eichel displayed maturity and leadership when discussing the season. He acknowledged his frustration, but spoke in a different manner than he had the season prior.
He’s also still pretty young, at only 21 (he’ll be 22 in October), but if awarded the captaincy, could grow into that leadership role. After all, if he remains in Buffalo through his contract, he’ll be here for (at least) eight more seasons — and even then, he’d only be 30.
This offseason, the Sabres and Eichel already announced he’ll be switching to number nine. However, any photos posted alongside the announcement showed only the back of Eichel’s jersey, not the front, leading some to speculate that a captaincy announcement could be impending.
However, as of right now, nothing is official.
The other question is this: if Eichel isn’t given the captaincy, who is? Is there another player on the Sabres roster that you think would be deserving of the title? (Of course, just because no other player would be deserving doesn’t necessarily mean it should default to Eichel.)
Or do the Sabres continue what they did last season and have no captain, but instead hold multiple alternate captains, perhaps giving Sam Reinhart, maybe Rasmus Ristolainen or even rookie Rasmus Dahlin a letter alongside Eichel? (Again, this is something that could still happen if Eichel gets the C, others could get an A.)
In my mind, it’s not a matter of if Eichel is the next Sabres’ captain, but when he’ll be named such - and what he’ll do with the team, to help lead them on and off the ice, and in the standings, from that point on.
Do you feel the same way? What are your thoughts on this topic?