The Buffalo Sabres and forward Jack Eichel have agreed to an eight-year contract extension with a $10 million annual cap hit, the team announced Tuesday. The news of the two sides closing in on the deal had initially been tweeted out by NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen.
The extension makes Eichel one of the highest-paid players in the NHL in 2018. At that point, Connor McDavid will have the league’s top cap hit at $12.5 million, followed by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Carey Price at $10.5 million, then Eichel and Anze Kopitar at $10 million.
It turns out he could’ve gotten even more, too. His agent Peter Fish said Eichel left money on the table to give Buffalo extra cap space in the future.
Eichel is in the last year of his three-year entry-level contract signed when he entered the league as a rookie in 2015. He’s considered one of the top young players in hockey and was set to become a restricted free agent next summer.
After a tumultuous offseason for the Sabres, extending Eichel through his 20s is a boon for Buffalo. The Sabres cleaned house in April after firing both general manager Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma in one fell swoop. Eichel’s name was tossed around during the aftermath of the firings, as there were rumors just days before that the forward would not re-sign with the team if Bylsma was still the head coach.
Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has just one full season to his name after an ankle injury derailed the start of his 2016-17 season. Though Eichel played in 20 fewer games, he still put up more points (57) than during his rookie season.
Entering his third season, Eichel has been a bit overshadowed by Connor McDavid and other young stars, but he’s positioned to breakout as the Sabres’ franchise player. With a max-term contract, there’s little doubt about their confidence in the 20-year-old to blossom on the ice.