The day before the draft, Eichel still won’t say if he’s going pro


FORT LAUDERDALE — “What’s your hold-up in announcing a decision?” a reporter shouted at Jack Eichel today.

To which Eichel responded, “I haven’t been drafted.”

The reporter was, of course, wondering why Eichel, the 18-year-old phenom who’s expected to be drafted second overall by the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow, has yet to announce whether he’ll turn pro or go back to Boston University for another season of college hockey.

It was the same thing reporters were wondering a few weeks ago in Chicago.

“I’m kinda waiting to be locked in with a team,” he said today. “That’s the next step. And then, after that, I guess if that team, after talking to them and seeing what they want, I guess I’ll be able to kinda finalize my decision. It’s not finalized because I haven’t been drafted. That’s the thing. We’ll see what they want.”

It’s all a bit curious. There’s no question in anyone’s mind that Eichel is ready to play in the NHL. Perhaps he’s just superstitious and doesn’t want to jinx anything.

But for Sabres fans, it’s somewhat, well, we don’t want to say worrisome. So let’s just stick with curious.

“I’m just really hoping I’ll be selected tomorrow,” said Eichel, somehow with a straight face. “If it is Buffalo, then I’ll work really hard this summer and try to prepare to potentially play there next year, if that’s the decision I make. If my decision is to go back to school, then I talked to NHL teams and I think they respect that as well.”

Related: Eichel understands Murray’s disappointment, but ‘extreme competitor’ has ‘a lot to offer’