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Jack Eichel sounds off on frustrating season for Sabres

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The 2016-17 season was a bitterly disappointing one for Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres.

Eichel himself missed 20 games due to injury, while the Sabres as a team failed to take any meaningful steps forward in their rebuild and actually finished with a worse record than they did a year ago thanks to a late-season collapse that saw them lose 16 of their final 23 games.

On Monday, Eichel showed some of that disappointment in his final media availability of the season.

The key point that Eichel focussed on was the culture around the team, where players not only have to want to win, but have to actually put  in the work and have the desire to do it.

When asked if more players on the team needed to hate losing, he did not really hold back.

“Yeah. That’s what a winning culture is. Not being satisfied with yourself, not being satisfied with the fact that you’re losing,” said Eichel, via the Buffalo News. “I think it’s important to realize that you can’t be satisfied with the fact you’re in the NHL. I’m here to win.”

He continued: “It’s pretty frustrating, I think guys want to win but there is a difference between saying you want to win and actually wanting to win. Putting the work in, dedicating your life to it. When you do that and it doesn’t work it is pretty frustrating.”

He closed his media session by saying he didn’t want to call anybody on the team “a passenger,” but that they all need to look in the mirror for how the season went.

“There’s a lot of great guys in the room,” said Eichel. “I am not going to all anybody a passenger. I love all of those guys. I enjoy being around them every day. We just didn’t do enough to put our team where we wanted to be and as a group we all need to look in the mirror.”

You can see and hear Eichel’s comments here.

Even though Eichel missed the first quarter of the season due to an ankle injury he still matched his production from his rookie season (when he played in 81 games), scoring the same number of goals and recording one additional assist.

When it was pointed out to him that he was nearly a point-per-game player, Eichel quickly responded by saying he wasn’t and that he has not even started to scratch the surface of what he can be in the league.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.