Jack Eichel smiles this afternoon. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Future Sabres pick Jack Eichel enjoying warm welcome from locals

BUFFALO – Jack Eichel still talks like it’s not a formality the Sabres will draft him. The 18-year-old says things like “if” he comes here.

Eichel, of course, knows the Sabres will take him second overall. He just doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. The draft is still three weeks away. Right now, Eichel’s just trying to enjoy the NHL Scouting Combine and the draft process.

Clearly, Eichel’s comfortable about joining the Sabres.

“Everyone around here’s pretty excited for the Sabres’ future,” Eichel said this afternoon following his fitness testing inside HarborCenter. “Everyone’s really welcoming. Nothing’s set in stone. It seems like this is where I’ll end up. People are really excited about the future.”

Those people have greeted him very warmly, making the Boston University center feel at home. What do they tell him?

“I’ve gotten a lot from locals from, ‘Welcome home,’ to, ‘We’re happy to have you here,’” Eichel said. “Just everything. They’re really welcoming. Obviously, they care a lot about their hockey.”

Eichel has been “trying to get a feel for what it would be like to play here.”

“If that ends up happening,” he said. “Just like anything else, it helps me think about some things, made my experience really nice. I really enjoyed being in Buffalo for the week.”

Eichel did well during today’s testing and ranks among the leaders. Check back later for more.

“It was a great experience out there with a bunch of other players, just competing,” he said. “Just like anything else, you want to do the best I can.”

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