Jack Eichel, the highly-hyped #2 overall pick in last week's NHL Draft, has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
Eichel's signing was announced Wednesday afternoon. He is expected to receive the maximum amount for an NHL rookie deal, which is capped.
There was little doubt the 6'2" center would skip his final three years at Boston University and enter the league, though it wasn't official until the team announcement. Eichel told reporters he had made up his mind to turn pro shortly after playing in the IIHF World Championship tournament for Team USA but waited to make his feelings known publicly.
"I hadn't been drafted yet, so for me to come out and say I was going to leave school before being drafted didn't really seem like the right move to me," he said.
As a freshman, the Massachusetts native earned the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s top player last season. He led all NCAA players with 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 40 games and led the Terriers to the Frozen Four final. Eichel, 18, also played in the World Junior Championship last season.
Eichel sent a tweet Wednesday afternoon reading "Dream come true to sign my first NHL contract with the @BuffaloSabres."
But during his news conference, he spoke like a rookie who needs to earn his way on the team. In fact, he hasn't selected a uniform number net, saying he'll do so "if" he makes the team.
That attitude pleases Sabres general manager Tim Murray.
"You know, a lot of people paying attention to him, I'm not sure I could have kept an even keel at that age," Murray said. "That really impresses me about him."
The Sabres have been busy rebuilding their roster over the past week. Along with drafting Eichel, who will be with the club from Day 1, the team last week acquired a new starting goaltender in Robin Lehner and pulled off a big trade with Colorado to bring standout forward Ryan O'Reilly to Buffalo.