Even the day before the draft, Jack Eichel didn’t want to say if he would spend another season with Boston University or sign an entry-level contract over the summer. There was a time when he wasn’t sure himself, but playing in the 2015 World Championship helped inform his decision.
That was the first time he played competitively with and against some of the world’s top professional players. Versus that level of competition he had two goals and seven points in 10 games.
“Before the world championships, I was a little bit unsure,” he told the Buffalo News. “After going over there and having the experience I did, talking to a lot of guys, I came back pretty set on moving on. I could never really make anything public because I hadn’t been drafted yet.”
He made it official Wednesday by signing with the Buffalo Sabres. Along with Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly, he’ll be tasked with breathing new life into the worst offensive team of 2014-15. Expectations should be conservative for next season, but there’s no question that the hope is Eichel will develop into the cornerstone of this franchise.
James Wright is trying to work his way back to the NHL. After spending a season with Zagreb Medvescak KHL of the Kontinental Hockey League, he has signed a one-year, two-way deal with the New York Islanders, per TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie.
His contract is worth $800K at the NHL level.
Taken by Tampa Bay in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Wright went on to score four goals and 12 points in 146 games with the Lightning and Winnipeg Jets. He played in a career-high 59 contests with Winnipeg in 2013-14, but was still unsigned in Sept. 2014 and opted to head to the KHL.
Wright had 15 goals and 19 points in 53 contests with the Croatian club last season.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Here’s Puck Daddy’s take on the winners and losers for the first day of the free agent period. (Puck Daddy)
Sportsnet ran a winners/losers column too, but theirs more strictly looked at things from the perspective of the teams. (Sportsnet)
Here’s a breakdown and analysis of the noteworthy Day 1 signings. (TSN)
Weighing some of the biggest signings and acquisitions on a case-by-case basis. (ESPN)
What are the best value deals so far? (Bleacher Report)
Finally, with the benefit of hindsight, let’s look at the best and worst signings of 2014. (Sports Illustrated)