Occasionally, we bloggers get something right. Even if we’re joking. Earlier this morning, loyal Buffalo fan Brian said that Jack Eichel signed a contract extension worth an average of $10 million over eight years.
When he said it in our friendly and sarcastic Facebook chat, I played along figuring it was another joke by the master. Who can blame Brian for taking a gallows humor approach? He roots for the Sabres and Bills. So far, so good.
Keep in mind this was in the morning before 10 Pacific. Brian lives in Southern California. So, I didn’t know how to react. Of course, he had been saying Eichel will leave and reference the Bettman conspiracy which favored Toronto and Edmonton over Buffalo in recent drafts involving Eichel/Connor McDavid and current Leaf super soph Auston Matthews. 😱
So imagine hours later, I get a call from a stunned Brian, who reveals that the proposed deal he proclaimed actually turned out to be true. I had no clue since I wasn’t on Twitter. Instead, preparing for a wild and crazy Yankees/Twins wildcard game. I’ll probably be in bed by the time this ends. I got my second subbing assignment tomorrow.
The words were all too real. “I can’t believe it. Eichel signed for what I said,” while noting that he had no prior knowledge. “Jeremy Roenick just tweeted it. He’s staying.”
In what’s been a emotional year for my best friend’s family, I couldn’t be happier for him. He deserves it. So do the loyal and passionate Sabres fans. It may as well include the Bills with them being a surprising 3-1 leading the AFC East with Hasan’s Jets 2-2 in a tie with the bumbling Patriots.
Eichel is entering his final year of a entry level contract. With McDavid getting paid, the pressure was on Buffalo to get it done. Now that they have, it’s time to focus on a new season with a fully healthy 20-year old franchise center ready to assume the mantle and lead them back to relevancy.
The former 2015 second overall pick out of Boston University missed 21 games in Year 2 due to a ankle sprain sustained in practice prior to the start of ’16-17. He still managed a career high 57 points going 24-33-57 over 61 contests. Basically, a point-per-game clip despite the time off from a tough injury.
They’ll look to improve upon a 78-point season that ranked last in the Atlantic Division. In a competitive division that’ll feature the healthier Lightning along with the Leafs, Canadiens, Senators and improved Panthers and Bruins, it will be challenging.
Can Eichel lead Buffalo into playoff contention? He should have help from a recovered Kyle Okposo along with key additions Benoit Pouliot and returning Buffalo playoff hero Jason Pominville. Nathan Beaulieu and Marco Scandella have been added to a blueline anchored by Rasmus Ristolainen. Jake McCabe and Zach Bogosian will be key factors.
Much still depends on number one goalie Robin Lehner, who while talented has been inconsistent and injury prone. They’ll need him to be better than 23 wins in 59 games. Chad Johnson is a capable experienced backup who can be counted on to fill in.
With a new GM and new coach in former Nashville assistant Phil Housley comes a new system. It should be interesting to see how quickly the Sabres adjust.
If they surprise, Captain Jack will lead the way. Now, Western New York can breathe easier knowing their franchise player is locked up. A great day for Buffalo. An even better one for my forever best buddy Brian. 😀