The Buffalo Sabres tried their best to get Connor McDavid, trading away some good players as they tumbled to the league's basement. Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out as the Edmonton Oilers had the luckier ping pong balls and won the draft lottery, bumping the hard-luck Sabres down a notch.
With the second selection in the Litter Box Cats Mock Draft, the Buffalo Sabres select:
Jack Eichel - C Boston University
One of the best American prospects to come along in quite some time, Jack Eichel would be a slam-dunk number one pick in most draft years. With the Oilers grabbing generational talent Connor McDavid first overall, the Sabres will happily to add Eichel to the fold. That's quite the consolation prize for GM Tim Murray.
After playing two seasons with USA Hockey National Development Program, this year Eichel toiled for the Boston University Terriers, where he became just the second freshman in NCAA history to win the Hobey Baker Award. Eichel put up a staggering 71 points (26G/45A) in 40 games to lead the nation in scoring. In addition to winning accolades such as Hockey East player of the year and rookie of the year, the 18-year-old was also named MVP of the league's playoff tournament and helped BU get all the to the NCAA title game, where they lost to Providence by a single goal.
The 6'2", 196-lb. Eichel has represented his country internationally a total of six times, including two stints at the prestigious World Junior Championship. He made his debut with the senior team at the recently-completed World Championship tournament in the Czech Republic. The youngster did not look out of place at all, scoring two goals and five assists in ten games and providing a few highlight reel moments as the U.S. team took bronze.
Hockey's Future had this to say about Eichel:
While Eichel may not be quite the high-end talent that Connor McDavid is, he is very close. Eichel has the ability to control the game with a high hockey IQ, a good, powerful skating stride, and offensive skills that are second to none among American prospects for the 2015 draft. Eichel has good strength, allowing him to win battles for the puck and control it in space. He may be guilty of trying to do too much at times, but there is little doubt that he will be a top player once he arrives in the NHL.
As with McDavid, it's extremely hard to imagine the Sabres trading out of this spot. So, if you are thinking Eichel, Tallon, Panthers, Sunrise, big splash... cool your jets. Buffalo was very busy at the deadline setting the stage for a new era in Buffalo that Eichel will be a huge part of. After winning the Hobey and putting in a strong showing playing against men at the Worlds, it seems unlikely Eichel will return to Boston for his sophomore season. He's NHL-ready now and will team with the likes of recently-acquired scoring threat Evander Kane, Tyler Ennis and last year's number one, Sam Reinhart to try and help lead the Sabres out of the cellar.
The Arizona Coyotes are on the clock. While you wait for the pick, check out some footage of Eichel doing his thing: