BUFFALO – Since arriving in Buffalo last week, Sabres prospect Jack Eichel has been “doing the media tour and doing a million things.” The 18-year-old center just wants to play a hockey game, something he hasn’t done in months.
Eichel will get his wish Friday, when the Sabres host what is quickly becoming a huge summer event, the annual development camp scrimmage at the First Niagara Center.
More than 15,000 fans could attend, the Sabres announced today. The team has already sold more than 10,000 tickets.
Eichel, the second overall pick last month, is “super excited” for the contest.
“There’s nothing I love more than preparing for a game and just playing – the atmosphere, just the feeling of playing against another team trying to win a game,” Eichel said this afternoon following on-ice testing.
Clearly, there’s a buzz around this camp because of Eichel. But there are other high-end youngsters to watch, including 19-year-old Nick Baptiste, Eichel’s right wing.
Baptiste, a 45-goal scorer in 2013-14, spent most of last season playing inside packed arenas with the Erie Otters thanks to phenom Connor McDavid. To Baptiste, the support is “special.”
“I mean, what are we, in the middle of July?” he asked. “It’s summertime and people are packing into this stadium to watch hockey. It’s special, and we’ve really noticed the fans’ support. It’s really nice to see. …
“It shows how happy everyone is for hockey to be coming back and the job that Tim Murray’s done spicing things up here in Buffalo. This city just seems to be real excited about everything.”
In other news, the Sabres have hired Anders Forsberg as their head European scout, according to a Swedish newspaper report. The 48-year-old Swede spent the last three seasons coaching MODO in the Swedish Hockey League.
Update: The Sabres have officially hired Forsberg, although they’re calling him a European scout.