Jack Eichel said the Buffalo Sabers have done a “brilliant” job this offseason bringing in players like Taylor Hall and that he can’t wait to get on the ice with them.
Eichel led the Sabers with 78 points (36 goals, 42 assists) in 68 games last season, but the 24-year-old center said on May 28 that he was “fed up” after a fifth consecutive losing season since they selected him No. 1.2 in the 2015 NHL Draft. Buffalo (30-31-8, .493 percentage points) was 13th in the Eastern Conference last season and has not qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2011; at nine seasons, it’s the longest drought in the NHL.
Kevyn Adams replaced Jason Botterill as general manager of the Sabers on June 16. One of his first acts in his new role was to reach out to Eichel and reassure him that his plan was to improve the team.
The Sabers made one of the biggest free agency splashes by signing Hall to a one-year, $ 8 million contract on Oct.11. -18, as he had career highs in the NHL in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93) for the New Jersey Devils.
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Eichel said that bringing in veterans like Hall and forwards Eric Staal and Cody Eakin will help the Sabers on and off the ice. Buffalo acquired Staal, 36, in a trade from the Minnesota Wild to the forward Marcus Johansson on September 16, and signed Eakin, 29, to a two-year contract worth $ 4.5 million (average annual value of $ 2.25 million) on October 11.
“Whenever you can add people like Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and Cody Eakin to your roster and to the dressing room, they bring not only talent to the ice, but also a veteran presence in the dressing room, ”he said. growing with a young group and trying to find the right way to do things at times, I think having older guys can help, especially during times of adversity.
” It’s awesome. ”
Eichel said he and Hall have spoken on several occasions and are eager to skate together and develop chemistry. Hall scored 563 points (218 goals, 345 assists) in 627 NHL games, including 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 65 games with the Arizona Devils and Coyotes last season.
Coach Ralph Krueger, who coached Hall with the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13, said he plans to play with Eichel and the two have the potential to be a “deadly” combination.
“Taylor is familiar with Ralph and knows his personality, and I’m sure Ralph was one of the main reasons he wanted to sign here,” Eichel said. “I’m sure that had a huge part in his decision.
“Obviously he’s a great player and he seems super excited about the situation. I think that’s one of the best parts. You want guys who want to be here. ”
“It relieves me a bit of pressure sometimes. He is someone who can do a lot on his own and can create a lot, create something out of nothing. I think people also forget that he won the Hart Trophy as an MVP two years ago. . ”