The Buffalo Sabres have reached an agreement to sign their franchise player, Jack Eichel, to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension. The contract represents the largest in the organization's history, serving as notice the team is placing its future in the talented hands of a player who won't turn 21 until later this month.
Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has enjoyed two productive seasons as a professional, though the Sabres have failed to make the playoffs during his tenure. He has amassed 48 goals and 113 points in 142 games.
Despite losing part of his second season to a severe ankle injury, Eichel recovered to finish 11th in the NHL 0.93 points per game. That production was achieved for a team that struggled offensively, sitting near the bottom of the league with 199 goals.
The move comes as the Sabres prepare for their season-opening game against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at KeyBank Center. For fans, the announcement may signal a change in fortune from what has been a difficult era in team history.
The Sabres haven't been to the playoffs since 2011. Last year, optimism faded quickly when Eichel suffered an ankle injury prior to the start of the season.