The NHL 15: Jack Eichel is ready to go off
As long as his body cooperates.
As we approach the start of the 2023-24 NHL season I am going to take a look at 15 players worth paying attention to this season for one reason or another.
These are not necessarily the best players. Some of them might be, but others might be more obscure. This not a ranking of any kind. It is simply a look at players that I think have some kind of interesting storyline to watch or could have a major impact on the NHL this season.
We continue today with Vegas Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel.
In this one I am going to piggyback off something I wrote in my most recent Bleacher Report article (One Prediction For Every NHL Team For The 2023-24 Season) where I predicted an absolutely massive offensive season for Jack Eichel.
It is something we have not really seen from Eichel in his career for a variety of reasons, and it has probably him a little underrated across the league. Even if it isn’t the best way to fully measure a player’s contribution to a team or their ability, we are ultimately drawn to goals and points. It is what gets players attention, makes them stars, wins them awards and gets them money.
Because Eichel hasn’t really had that big attention-grabbing season, and because he spent most of his career to this point playing on a dreadful team, I think it’s kind of buried him on the hierarchy of NHL stars.
When he entered the NHL as the No. 2 overall pick behind Connor McDavid he came in with massive expectations. He was supposed to be a franchise-changing player for the Buffalo Sabres and was viewed as the type of prospect that would have probably been a slam-dunk No. 1 overall pick in almost any other year. While McDavid was the ultimate prize in the 2015 draft class and the source of one of the greatest tank battles in league history, the biggest benefit to finishing with the worst record that season was that team knew it was guaranteed a top-two pick and knew it was going to come away with a potential franchise player.
Everybody wanted McDavid, but Eichel was viewed as a pretty solid consolation prize.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, it never worked out.
They failed to build a competitive team around him, he got fed up with the losing, his body didn’t always cooperate with him, and everything finally reached a boiling point when Eichel and the Sabres had a very public disagreement on how to handle a neck surgery that his doctors had recommended to him.
It eventually resulted in the trade to Vegas on November 4, 2021 that sent Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs back to Buffalo.
So far, it’s been a pretty successful trade for both clubs.
Vegas got the No. 1 center and game-changing offensive talent it has lacked down the middle, while Buffalo got two significant building blocks for its rebuild that actually want to be there.
Vegas got its Stanley Cup.
Buffalo finally has a team that looks like it is building something.
It has been the rare win-win trade involving a superstar where everybody got exactly what they were looking for out of it.
But let’s get back to Eichel specifically and what could be ahead for him this season.
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