Jack Eichel didn’t exactly have the scrap-book start to the season, as he missed the first 19 games with an ankle injury. This time out has seemingly made the young man hungry, like he needed any help in that department. If there are any doubts to his start for the season, ask the Los Angeles Kings how he’s doing.
Jack Eichel Starting His Season On Fire
Eichel is seen by many fans in Buffalo, and probably even more across the United States, as one of the key players for a very bright future in American hockey. He’s proving that his rookies season was no fluke, and he’s lighting goalies and defensemen up in his return to hockey.
The young forward has played in just seven games this season, but has already racked up eight points. His return has proven to be pivotal to a much improved-looking Buffalo Sabres squad. While he was out, along with teammate Evander Kane, Buffalo was one of the worst-scoring teams in the entire NHL.
Since his return, Buffalo has been scoring at a pace of 3.29 goals-for/game. Despite it being such a small sample size, it just goes to show how great of a player, and how big an influence, Eichel has on his organization at the ripe age of 20. During this time that Eichel has been back Buffalo has gone 4-2-1 and has moved themselves even on points with the highly-touted young Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division.
The Numbers Behind Eichel
In his 88 career games in the NHL Eichel has 29 goals and 64 total points. These are very respectable numbers from a player from the States that played NCAA hockey. There’s been a bit of a stigma amongst many fans throughout the league that players who choose to go the NCAA path are, more often than not, not going to be elite-level players. Eichel, along with other first and second-year players, are debunking this common myth.
During his time in the NHL Eichel also has proven why he’s a solid scorer, especially given the fact that he’s only 20 years old. The only downside is that he needs to be a bit smarter with his shot selection in the offensive zone. Another downside would be his shot prevention, as he’s proven that he’s not a forward that will likely be competing for Frank J. Selke Trophy.
As for the deeper analytics from the 2015-2016 season, most of them point at Eichel being a second-line forward. Many Sabres fans would have an issue with this, as judging Eichel with the eye test proves only that he’s got fantastic skills as a hockey player. You can find a full chart on Eichel, and why he needs to improve to become the elite forward his hot start shows he can be, at ownthepuck.blogspot.ca.
If there’s one thing that cannot be denied, is that Eichel is having a hot start to his shortened season and has immense skill as a hockey player. But the question that arises from the analytics, will this be sustainable and can he improve on it to become elite? Only time, and likely maturity, will tell.