Jack Eichel and Matt Grzelcyk were part of an absolute wagon of a 2014-15 Boston University Terriers men’s ice hockey team, but their NHL experiences thus far have been, in a word, different.
Eichel has blossomed into one of the league’s premier forward talents, but has played on mostly disastrous Buffalo Sabres teams that have missed the playoffs all five years he’s been in the NHL. Grzelcyk, meanwhile, has become a staple on the Boston Bruins’ third defensive pairing and has appeared in 31 postseason games, 20 of which were during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.
And now, the Sabres are in a weird spot. They just gutted much of their hockey operations staff, and the future of the organization is unclear. Eichel has been patient with the Sabres, but it’s getting to the point that he’s admitted he’s frustrated, and truthfully he’d be well within his rights to request a trade.
Grzelcyk feels for his friend.
“I know that it’s a tough situation (in Buffalo), especially for Jack,” Grzelcyk said Tuesday on a conference call with Boston media. “He’s one of my good friends and I know firsthand how competitive he is and how much that he just wants to win more than anything. He’s not really concerned with individual accolades or anything like that, he’s aware that you have the most fun at the rink when you’re winning. So, it’s for sure very frustrating for him.”
Eichel is from North Chelmsford, Mass., so when he started expressing his frustration with the way things have been in Buffalo, many started wondering if he’s hoping the Bruins will swoop in and get him out of upstate New York.
But for what it’s worth, Grzelcyk hasn’t been pitching Eichel on coming to the Bruins.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to really speak to him on that,” Grzelcyk said. “I’m sure he’s getting texts left and right about the situation that’s going on, but it certainly makes you look inward and realize, like you said, how grateful I am for the opportunity to play for such a great organization. We have such good leaders and such good veterans and guys who have been there before and know what it requires to get the job done. I’m so blessed to be on this team and I think that going through the experiences in the playoffs just helps you grow each and every season. I know that Jack is quite antsy to get into the playoff picture and play in those important games and really shine in those big moments. I just hope that he can reach that goal soon and we can see his full potential.”
Eichel is under contract in Buffalo through the 2025-26 season, so if he’s going to play somewhere other than Buffalo anytime soon, he’ll have to end up there through a trade. What exactly the Sabres’ palate for moving him is is unclear, but suffice to say they’ll get plenty of calls if he does finally ask to leave.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images