As the NHL prepares to return in August, the current spike in new cases might put that plan on hold. While the Bruins are focused on their short-term playoff pursuit, one long-term possibility has gained steam recently.
One of the teams denied a chance to finish this season is the Buffalo Sabres, who have made several internal changes, including the firing of general manager Jason Botterill. During these woeful times, all eyes are on captain Jack Eichel, who is strongly unhappy with the squad’s situation.
Eichel is a North Chelmsford, Mass., native, who played for Boston University before entering the NHL in 2015. Despite five years at the highest level of professional hockey, Eichel has yet to taste the playoff atmosphere. How great would that be that connection for Boston? It would take a whole lot for the Bruins to get Eichel on board. Eichel has six more years left on his deal, averaging $10 million per season. For that caliber of player, though, it could be a price worth chasing.
The 23-year-old center would become the No. 1 player in Boston. Patrice Bergeron soon turns 35, while David Krejci just celebrated his 34th birthday. Their combined salary cap hit is $14 million, while Charlie Coyle (projected to be a leading center for the Bruins at the age of 28) and Eichel would combine for $15.25 million per season.
“I haven’t really had the chance to speak to him yet. I’m sure he’s getting texts left and right about the situation that’s going on but certainly, it makes you look inward and realize, like you said, how grateful I am for the opportunity to play for such a great organization. We have such good leaders,” said defenseman and fellow Mass. native Matt Grzelcyk in a recent interview.
“I know that it’s a tough situation, especially for Jack,” an empathetic Grzelcyk said. “He’s one of my good friends and I know first hand how competitive he is and how much he just wants to win more than anything.”
“I’m so blessed to be on this team and I think that going through the experience in the playoffs just helps you grow each and every season,” Grzelcyk added. “I know that Jack is quite antsy to get in the playoff picture and play in the most important games and really shine in those big moments. I hope that he can reach that goal soon and we can see his full potential,” Grzelcyk added.
While it is hard to imagine Eichel as a Bruin, it might be both the missing piece for them and a much-needed No. 1 center the Bruins require to maintain their success when Bergeron’s era is over.
The big-picture outlook would appear just terrific.