Eichel named Team USA captain for World Juniors

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One day after Canada named Ottawa rookie Curtis Lazar its captain for the World Junior Championships, the Americans announced Jack Eichel would wear the “C” for the upcoming tournament.

Eichel, the standout Boston University freshman that’s pegged as a top-two pick in next year’s NHL Entry Draft, heads a leadership group that also includes Blackhawks draftee John Hayden (74th overall, ’13) and defenseman Will Butcher, Colorado’s fifth-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

That Eichel got the “C” shouldn’t come as a big surprise. He’s a hugely talented forward that’s taken the collegiate hockey landscape by storm this season, leading the country in scoring (27 points in 16 games) while impressing several onlookers — including American hockey legend Mike Eruzione.

From the Calgary Sun:

In his post as director of special outreach at Boston University, Eruzione was well aware of what was transpiring when Eichel announced his intentions to go to the school. And just to make sure, during Eruzione’s many speaking engagements across the country, fans would remind him of just what a talent the school was getting.

Said Eruzione: “It’s funny. All year during my travels people would say ‘You have Eichel, you’ve got Eichel coming in.’ I’d say: ‘I’m sure the kid’s a good player.’”

“You always hear about these guys coming up and how great they are. Then you go to the first two or three practices and it’s like ‘Whoa, this kid is pretty good.’

“It’s great to see. He’s a great player and seems a good kid, a well grounded kid. That’s important.”

This year’s World Junior tournament will take place in Toronto and Montreal from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Team USA opens its campaign against Finland at the Bell Centre on Friday.