The chances of the Buffalo Sabres taking Jack Eichel with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft are about as high as the sun rising in the morning.
The odds of Eichel playing in the NHL next season don’t appear to be the same.
“If it ends up that my heart tells me that I want to move on and try to play in the NHL, then that’s what I’m going to do,” Eichel said Friday at the NHL Draft Combine, per John Vogl of The Buffalo News. “If my heart says I want to go back to (Boston University), then that’s what I’m going to do.
“There’s pros and cons of both situations. That’s going to make my decision pretty tough. I don’t want to be playing professionally if I want to be back in college with BU. I don’t want be at BU if I prefer to be playing professionally.”
The lure of the NHL will be strong, but it could benefit the Sabres if he returned to the Terriers for a sophomore season.
The Sabres aren’t going to be a playoff team next season. They have acquired many prospects and draft picks over the last two years in what has been a successful rebuild so far. Another season near the bottom of the standings and the high draft pick that would result from that finish is the best possible outcome for the Sabres in 2015-16.
Eichel led all NCAA players in scoring en route to winning the Hobey Baker Award in April. Another year with the Terriers would be fun, but going back to school also presents the threat of suffering an injury that impacts his NHL future. There’s little improvement left for him to make at the collegiate level.
Eichel proved he could play at a high level against NHL players at last month’s IIHF World Championships with Team USA. Playing against that kind of competition on a regular basis is a challenge he’s ready for based on his skill, size and maturity.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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