Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
DOB: October 28, 1996
Draft: 2015, 2nd overall
How acquired: Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed: 2015--3yr. ELC/$925K + $2.85M Performance Bonus
Final year of contract: 2017-18
2015-16 Stats: 81 games, 24 goals, 32 assists, 56 points, -16
What we wrote preseason: "His speed and acceleration are incredible for a 6'2" 198 lb. player as witnessed at every level. Eichel has the ability to finish as well as set up and has an NHL-ready frame that makes him difficult to get off the puck." In a splendid profile piece by the Buffalo News' Bucky Gleason, Eichel's immeasurables include a home-spun humility and blue collar work-ethic engrained in him by his parents, Bob and Anne. "[They] weren’t trying to build a great hockey player," wrote Gleason, "their goal was to raise a good human being."What we wrote mid-season: "An incredible talent with blazing speed and has the ability to develop into something real special. Teams continue to throw bodies in his path to stop him before he gets started and he's yet to find a way to counter that. Linemates who can open up a bit more ice for him would help as would him using his linemates more. Second on the team with nine goals."
Impressions on his play this year: Eichel was in a bit of a slump at the time of that mid-season report, but after indulging in some down-time on a visit back to North Chelmsford, MA during the Christmas break, he hit the ice rejuvenated. He tacked on 13 goals and added 25 assists to close out the season becoming the first Sabres rookie to lead the team in goals in nearly 30 years and the youngest Sabres rookie to hit the 50-point mark in 33 years.
One may need to go all the way back to Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo's first-ever draft pick, to find a player who instantly sends a rush of anticipation that electrifies the home crowd. With an NHL body, franchise tools and world-class speed, head coach Dan Bylsma had trouble finding wingers that could hang with Eichel but he eventually found one in rookie Sam Reinhart, who's brains and elite hockey sense allowed him to keep up. The duo flourished.
Questions moving forward: Will he become more selfish? During locker cleanout he told the gathered media "I started to take that turn after Christmastime. I started to take more onus in my own game, take more responsibility and expect more out of myself." What's his ceiling? And how can he use his linemates to reach higher and help take this team farther? Those are all good questions.