Monday, 14 September 2015

One Prospect Stands Out

Hockey fans have been stifled by the Edmonton Oilers in watching the first-overall pick work his magic. The second-overall pick, however, has been honing his craft quietly in a separate rookie tournament, and it appears that Jack Eichel is a lock to make the Buffalo Sabres with his performance thus far. He's said the right things in interviews, he's an American kid playing in an American market that's starving for star power, and he's a recognizable icon. Tonight's highlight reel overtime goal will only help his cause in becoming an NHL star.

The Sabres' rookies were all squared up at 2-2 with the Boston Bruins' rookies, so you know there was some overtime magic needing to be made. Former University of North Dakota goaltender Zane McIntyre was tasked to stare down Jack Eichel in a battle of former NCAA standouts, and here's what happened in that mano-a-mano competition.
Not bad, Eichel. Not bad at all.

Eichel scored the 3-2 overtime winner with 37 seconds remaining and Bruins forward Anton Blidh doing everything he could to disrupt the young star, but, as we saw, Blidh's efforts were futile. The three-on-three overtime format really seemed to benefit the Sabres' young stars in Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Nicholas Baptiste, but it was Eichel's play throughout the game that caused people to take notice. His saucer pass in the third period to Brycen Martin for the 2-2 goal was beyond impressive, and Martin could only rave after the game about Eichel's touch.

"I don't think I'm ever going to forget that pass. It was so perfect," Martin told reporters about the pass leading to his one-timer goal. "He can make plays that some pros can't. At such a young age, it's such an exceptional talent. He just brings the energy everywhere. In the room and off the ice and even on the ice, he's a true diamond and Buffalo is going to be real happy with him in the future."

I'm not saying that Peter Chiarelli could learn a thing or two from Tim Murray, but the Oilers GM could take a page out of Murray's notebook in letting his star play. People want to see greatness on the ice, and Murray let his star play. Eichel rewarded him with three points in two games, and looked far more comfortable in the game against the Bruins where he was making magic on the ice.

Ultimately, isn't that what the fans want to see?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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