Eichel may start the season without a contract extension

September 5, 2017

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jack Eichel was back in town and skated with his teammates for the first time. Eichel covered many topics afterwards including his contract. It seems like that Eichel may have to start the season without a deal. He said, “I have no problem playing the year out.”

“I’m pretty adamant about staying a Sabre. I want to bring some excitement to this town and the contract thing will take care of itself.”

Matt Bove of Channel 7 reported that Eichel’s agent said that talks between him and Jason Botterill have died down and that Eichel is planning on playing without a new deal. Eichel said, “We know where we stand, we know where the Sabres stand and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I have no problem playing the season out and earn whatever.”

The whole thing will become a huge distraction as Eichel will be asked about it a lot on the road. He said, “If I come to the rink every day with a good attitude and don’t let that stuff affect me, don’t let it bother me, don’t let the stress of it all wear on you mentally, you’re going to have a successful year.”

I’ve been talking to players for about three weeks. Many have talked about the excitement of getting a fresh start. Eichel is looking forward to that, “I don’t know how much division there was in the locker room. Obviously whenever there’s a losing season, there’s going to be some frustration and I think guys showed that, but the guys are tight, it’s a close group, with how everything ended last year, guys are able to come in here with some new faces a new general manager, a new coach, people that haven’t made impressions on specific people in the locker room and that can be a good thing for some guys that didn’t have the best relationships the past few years.”

Phil Housley will also have a different philosophy than Dan Bylsma. Eichel likes what he’s heard from Housley, “The style of play that he wants to instill in us is going to fit pretty well into my game. I can see pushing the pace, playing with the puck, possessing it, playing fast, all that stuff bodes well for me and I think it should be a good fit.”

Eichel was very upbeat and seemed very happy as he spoke on Tuesday. He turns 21 at the end of October and he knows maturity is a process, "It's all new. It seems like I've been doing it for a while, but it's only my third year, so I just want to keep getting better at everything."

“I think every year you try to just become a little bit more mature, try to handle your business a little bit better, just the way you approach everything whether that's your day-to-day at the rink or how I handle you guys or everything,"

Brian Gionta is gone and its not known if Housley and Botterill are going to name a captain this year. Eichel said he knows that he has to really become a leader now, "That's a big goal of mine and that's something that I need to do. I look at myself to be one of the leaders on this team and a guy who's going to push this organization to the next level. If that's going to be the case, then I've got to be a guy that everyone leans on and I've got to be better in all aspects of hockey on and off the ice, just being more of a leader.” Eichel added, "I think if I do that, more guys will follow and we'll be successful."

Eichel will be in New York for the next few days helping the NHL promote the Winter Classic.