Buffalo Sabres centre Jack Eichel is just three games into his first-ever NHL season, but he’s already having an impact — and a pretty big one at that.
The 18 year old rookie fired off his second goal of the year in Buffalo’s first win of the 2015-2016 season, finding the back of the net mid-way through the third period en route to a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Add in two shots on goal and eighteen minutes of ice time, and it’s clear that the Massachusetts native and recent Hobey Baker winner is settling in at the pro level quite nicely.
Drafted second overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Eichel finished his rookie season with Boston University last year with an awe-inspiring 26 goals and 71 points in just 40 NCAA games. It looks like that pace — which fell just short of a two point per game pace, something that few NCAA skaters achieve (let alone rookies) — won’t be duplicated at the NHL level, but he’s certainly going to find the back of the net often enough. His two goals in three games puts him back up on the leaderboard for rookie scoring so far this season, and it certainly puts him miles ahead of the other 2015 draftees in the league right now.
Although Eichel clearly had an impact in the team’s win, though, Buffalo had quite a few names that deserved recognition for their play in Monday’s win. Ryan O’Reilly recorded both his first goal and his first assist as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, while interim starter Chad Johnson stopped 22 of 24 shots taken at him en route to a .917 SV%. The Atlantic Division club is down their true starter, Robin Lehner, with a foot injury — so seeing that Johnson was able to hold it together should renew some hope for the rebuilding Buffalo club.
The Sabres will next take on the Florida Panthers on October 15th, where they’ll look to even their record to 2-2-0 on the season.