CHICAGO — Call it posturing if you want.
But if you do, be sure to mention the lack of wavering.
With less than three weeks before he’ll be chosen second overall by the Sabres at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel continued to insist — even after participating in the Buffalo-based scouting combine — there’s still no decision on whether he’ll turn pro next year, or return to Boston University for his sophomore campaign.
“There’s a lot of pros and cons about going both places,” Eichel said Monday as the top draft prospects met the media at the United Center. “It’s not an easy decision — that’s why I haven’t really made it yet.”
Eichel, who has already stated he’ll announce his decision after the draft, was then pressed further on exactly when that will happen.
And, on cue, he offered up the same reply he’s given in the past.
“After the draft,” he said. “Probably sooner than later. I’d like to know what I’m doing this summer. Probably pretty quickly after the draft, I’ll finalize my decision.”
Talks then turned to what would bring Eichel back to school. The most obvious thing, of course, is what was left on the table — he and the Terriers fell agonizingly short of a national title, losing to Providence in the Frozen Four finale.
There’s also the fact BU named Eichel an assistant captain for next season at their end-of-year awards banquet.
“There’s some unfinished business,” he explained. “It was definitely tough to lose the last game, and I think that’s one of the lures of coming back — we didn’t graduate too many guys. Obviously we lost our goalie [Matt O’Connor, signed in Ottawa] and two of our top-six forwards [including Evan Rodrigues, who signed in Buffalo].
“But coach Quinn did a great job of recruiting, so we’re bringing in a lot of great players. I think we’ll be another competitor next year.”
During his media availability, Eichel made it clear he knows the Sabres are taking him — “obviously nothing’s set in stone, but it seems like Buffalo is where I’d be,” he said — so the decision is this: It’s either Buffalo or BU next season.
There was no “I need to see who takes me first”-type talk and, as mentioned above, this comes after participating in the combine, during which Sabres GM Tim Murray revealed that, during the team’s interview, Eichel proclaimed he’d eventually be better than No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid.
That such information became public took Eichel a bit off guard:
Of course, there are few who actually expect Eichel to return to BU. Outside of winning a national title, the reigning Hobey Baker winner has little to accomplish at the NCAA level. Coaches, teammates and his soon-to-be bench boss, Dan Bylsma, have all said he’s ready for the pros, and an impressive performance for Team USA at the world championships cemented that. But there is a certain hesitancy in Eichel when it comes to committing to the NHL and, by proxy, the Buffalo Sabres.
Here’s his answer to a question asking if, had BU won the national title, the decision to go pro would be a no-brainer.
“No. I don’t really make decisions that lightly. I don’t think I’d be able to leave BU that quickly.”