The CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game will take place at First Niagara Center in Downtown Buffalo Thursday. The game will feature some of the best young talent in the world, including top prospect John “Jack” Eichel.
“I’m very excited to be a part of the 3rd annual All-American Prospects game. It’s a huge deal. Obviously, to be playing in Buffalo I’m super excited. It’s a rich hockey city with a lot of background,” said Eichel.
17-year old Jack Eichel currently attends Boston University and could be the first overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 6 ft 1in tall, 190 pound center is considered a once-in-a-generation talent, along with top pick, Connor McDavid. When asked how he feels to be competing for the top spot, Eichel says he’s not letting the pressure get to him.
“It’s in anyone’s competitive nature to be number one. You dream about that your whole life. So, if I sat here and said I didn’t want to be the number one pick I’d be lying, because I do. But I’m not going to lose sleep over it. There’s been plenty of NHL players who haven’t been number one and have had great careers. So, it’s in the back of my mind, but at the end of the day it’s not the end all be all,” said Eichel.
Eichel says he’s not giving too much thought at the moment about where he’ll end up after the 2015 draft. When asked if he could see himself in Buffalo, Eichel said he would just be excited to play in the NHL.
“I take interest in any NHL rink I go to. Obviously it’s a beautiful facility here and I’m lucky enough to be able to play a game here. I don’t really pay attention to the team. To be honest it doesn’t matter whatever team selects me. If I’m able to get selected next summer, it would just be an honor to just get drafted in general. So, whatever team selects me I would be more than happy to go there,” said Eichel.
The prospects teams will be coached by former Buffalo Sabre Mike Grier and NHL on NBC, Ed Olczyk. 200 NHL scouts are expected to be in the building for the game. Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations for USA Hockey Jim Johannson says the contest will be high-energy.
“This is about the players and the showcasing of the players. There’s 42 great stories that are going to come out here and put their talents on in front of the hockey crowd and with that there’s 42 players that came from great grassroots programs,” said Joannson.
Prospects practices are free and open to the public. The teams will hit the ice at 10 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Thursday. The USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game will begin at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center. Tickets are still available at www.tickets.com and the FNC box office.