Here is what you need to know about Jack Eichel, the second-ranked North American skater available in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Age on June 26: 18
Birthplace: North Chelmsford, Mass.
Current team: Boston University, NCAA
Weight: 196 pounds
Twitter account: @Jack_Eichel11
NHL Central Scouting rank (North America): 2nd
Marek’s Take: The best ‘consolation’ prize in the draft since Tyler Seguin. Eichel is an explosive centre who’s been able to impose his will at every level. Always a threat to score, no matter where he is in the offensive zone. In any other draft year he’s going No. 1. Best comparable is probably a combination of Joe Thornton and Mike Modano.
If Connor McDavid is the No. 1 prospect available in this year’s draft, then Jack Eichel is 1b.
He dominated this year at Boston University with the Terriers, scoring 26 goals and 45 assists in 40 games. Those stats led the entire country and earned him the Hobey Baker Award for top NCAA player.
Oh yes, did we mention he was a freshman?
The Hobey Baker wasn’t the only hardware he took home this year. Eichel was also the most valuable player in the Hockey East tournament, named Hockey East player of the year, Hockey East rookie of the year and earned first-team all-star honours.
“I thought he could play for any NHL team in January of this year,” Boston University associate coach Steve Greeley told WGRZ.com.
The 18-year-old’s magical season led the Terriers to a conference title, their first in six years.
Eichel is no joke in the weight room either. Earlier this season, he cleaned 330 pounds during a BU weight drill — a lot more than any of his teammates. And at the NHL Draft Combine in early June, he performed better than McDavid.
Eichel started to be recruited by both Boston University and Boston College before his 15th birthday, according to a Sports Illustrated feature. His excellent season finished on a sour note as BU lost to Providence College 4-3 in the championship game.
Eichel had such a strong year that the United States brought him to the World Championship in the Czech Republic where they won bronze. Playing on a line with Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders and Trevor Lewis of the Los Angeles Kings, Eichel fit right in. In 10 games, he finished third in team scoring with seven points, including a key overtime winner against Slovakia in the preliminary round.
He’s also an unreal passer.
Last season, Eichel led the U.S. under-18 team with 87 points, including 49 assists in 53 games. Those numbers translated into results as the United States won gold at the under-18 World Championship. The year before that, they took silver.
This past holiday season, Eichel captained the U.S. at the world juniors. In five games, he had a goal and three assists for a team that lost in the quarter-finals.
Top notch comparisons
Any highly touted prospect is bound to be compared to other NHLers, past or present. For Eichel, his coach compared him to three very good NHL centres.
Around New England, Eichel’s excellence in the NCAA game reminded many of Paul Kariya, who dominated as a member of the Maine Black Bears.
In 1992-93, Kariya only played in 39 games as a freshman but put up 100 points. Eichel’s season at Boston University was the best offensively since Kariya.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Eichel is whether he will even play in the NHL next season. He has yet to tip his cap on whether he will return to Boston University or turn pro.
In the meantime, it would be a shock if the Sabres don’t select Eichel at No. 2. After the draft lottery, Sabres GM Tim Murray compared missing out on the No. 1 overall pick to being cut from the Canadian world junior team. But Eichel has let it be known that he’s a pretty good prospect, too. He’s full of confidence, as evidenced by his claim that he’ll be a better NHLer than McDavid.
If Buffalo does take Eichel, he will get to play with a familiar face in linemate Evan Rodrigues, who the Sabres signed in April.
Along with Rodrigues, Buffalo also has new coach Dan Bylsma at the helm. Eichel is familiar with Bylsma as he served as an assistant with the U.S. national team at the worlds this spring.
– Eichel and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Sonny Milano started playing hockey together at the age of seven. The pair also played together for the Boston Jr. Bruins.
– Eichel’s sister rows for Merrimack College.
– His dad is a manager at a plumbing company and his mom is a nurse.