June 30th, 2022. That’s the last day that Jack Eichel has no modifier on his contract. While he has no desire now to leave…what if these dreadful seasons in Buffalo continue??
Parallel thinking is a helluva thing because as we were discussing on FOHS the possibility of Eichel asking out of Buffalo, TSN’s Darren Dreger did a hit on TSN about this same topic (as you see from his tweet above). Meanwhile, Greg Wyshynski of ESPNNNNNNNNNnnnnnn talked about the disastrous seasons for the Sabres. So– for once, Buffalo is getting people in the hockey world talking.
For me, this is the same discussion I’ve had for a couple years about Connor McDavid and the dreadful way the Oilers have been playing around him. For their sake, they have gotten things together for the most part, as to not waste another year of his stardom– but now it seems the focus is shifting to Eichel. For all intents and purposes, Eichel has come into his own slowly and silently for the Sabres and the league for that matter. It’s a damn shame that the team around him hasn’t had the same climb he has.
In this “win now” culture of sports, there’s little room for error– which Jason Botterill is finding out right now. Even the absentee landlords that are the Pegulas are paying attention to the Sabres after the Bills made the playoffs and Penn State’s season is winding down. Maybe not good for this scenario, but Botterill has to find a way out or he’ll be on his way out.
However, I mentioned the Pegulas as absentees and that’s kind of how it’s been. Once they sunk their claws into the Sabres as their new shiny toy– they touted them around, touted the heritage of the team around, and tried to make Buffalo a hot spot for people. Yet, once they bought the rest of Buffalo and some of Happy Valley, the Pegulas really have thrown this toy to the side for their new– and more profitable– ones; which the fans have noticed and really been pissed off about in the blue-collar town.
The Pegulas can be as upset as they want, but until there’s action and some kind of direction for this team, they’re going to be a but of many jokes. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see the tales of player mismangement from this era of the team from some players who left and became bigger stars elsewhere.
Leading me back to Eichel. With nothing on his contract until his full no-move clause kicks into effect July 1st, 2022; you’re going to have the rumors of him wanting out or teams wanting to find a way to get him out. With situations not improving, you have to feel bad for a kid who’s too loyal to a team that may or may not get better because of him. A kid who probably won’t get to see his full potential on a squad that doesn’t seem up to snuff to get into a playoff race in the Atlantic Division.
Odds are, his loyalty will keep him in Buffalo despite what’s going on around him. He’ll focus on what he can do, how he can do it with what’s given to him, and then let the cards fall as they may. With six years remaining on his deal and two left with no modifier, we’ll see how much his loyalty holds if he keeps getting better and the team doesn’t.