The Sabres Observer
Jack Eichel has called Evan Rodrigues one of the smartest players he's ever played with. Boston University coach David Quinn has said that Rodrigues is one of the smartest college hockey players he's ever coached.
You get the idea.
Eichel's linemate at BU is making it difficult for the Sabres to send the intelligent but undrafted rookie forward down to Rochester. It's still likely he'll end up there, but his 2-goal performance in last night's 4-0 Sabres win over Toronto further increased his chances of getting at least a taste of the NHL at some point this season.
Sam Reinhart is pretty sneaky in that you won't notice him as much as flashier players on the ice -- until you check the scoresheet after the game.
Last night was just another example. The "other" second overall pick showed how much he has improved since last season as he tallied 3 assists in a 6-4 Buffalo comeback win over Toronto at the ACC.
Evander Kane scored a pair of goals, and Buffalo put up 42 shots, but the Ottawa Senators left First Niagara Center with a 5-2 win in preseason action last night.
With Jack Eichel having the night off, Buffalo's top line was Kane-O'Reilly-Ennis. They were a force in the first period when Buffalo had 20 shot attempts to Ottawa's 11, but things fell apart in period two when the Sens scored 3 goals in a span of 3:26.
The Jack Eichel love-in reached a new level on Monday night.
Buffalo Sabres fans in attendance at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota watched the No. 2 overall pick this summer score the winning goal in his NHL pre-season debut, a short-handed marker against Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper, with 5:44 left in the third period for a 3-2 victory.
The Sabres and Wild will open their preseason schedules tonight in Minnesota, and there will be a twist at the end of regulation.
Regardless of the final score, the teams will play a 5-minute, sudden-death 3-on-3 OT period as part of the NHL's test drive of the new format intended to reduce the number of shootouts.
Jack Eichel netted the game winning goal in overtime and added an assist as the Sabres prospects beat the Bruins youngsters 3-2.
Boston controlled the play in the first period with an 11-5 edge in shots on goal, but Buffalo gradually took over after that.
If tonight was any indication, glowing optimism about the Sabres farm system is justified.
Led by a top line of Jack Eichel, undrafted former Boston U teammate Evan Rodrigues, and 2013 3rd-round pick Nicholas Baptiste, the Sabres prospects crushed the New Jersey Devils kids 6-2.
Russ Brandon would be more than willing to scream at the top of his lungs from the 38th row in the upper deck at Ralph Wilson Stadium about the trials and tribulations of maintaining the viability of an NFL franchise in a small market like Buffalo.
He's talked about the importance of regionalization as if it were a lifeline. There were times, to be blunt, when he implicitly lamented about the need for patience and more support from Bills fans.
But Brandon, who yesterday was named president of the Sabres, is too intelligent of a man not to be well aware of the obvious number one determining factor -- past, present and future -- in his success or failure.
Think about it. After all of the fierce marketing efforts and initiatives that were implemented by Brandon, why did the Bills have fewer season ticket holders seven years after he was hired for his first high-level executive position with the team in 2006?
Do you think seven straight losing seasons may have had something to do with it?
Sitting a few rows behind the Gold Team bench at last night's scrimmage, I could see Jack Eichel say something to his coaches and teammates as he was huffing and puffing while skating off the ice after another rough shift.
He had just lost two puck battles to Jean Dupuy and been knocked to the ice two other times from hard hits, all in a matter of 90 seconds.
Without being a master lip reader, the look on Eichel's flushed face and his body language made it apparent he was muttering something along the lines of "I just don't have it tonight".
After the media tours, corporate event speeches, filmed fitting sessions at athletic headgear stores, emotional visits with children at Roswell Park, hula-hooping demonstrations at Larkin Square, and all the while still looking like an electric ball of energy at development camp the entire week leading up to this climactic event, it's completely understandable that Eichel hit a wall.
I've taken the liberty of reviewing 30 players -- free agents and others possibly available to acquire via trade -- for Sabres fans to watch this offseason.
Some of them are on the list because I think they'd be a good fit in Buffalo, and others made it simply due to insider reports and the latest buzz from the hockey world.
Today, in our final segment, let's take a look at goalies.
About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]