BUFFALO – Sabres veteran Matt Moulson joked he has already picked out rookie Jack Eichel’s bedroom at his home for the upcoming season.
“He’ll be sharing a room with my son,” Moulson cracked Wednesday following a late-summer skate.
Eichel, of course, won’t be splitting a room with George, who will turn 2 years old in October. Moulson plans to give Eichel, 18, his own space so his son and daughter, Mila, who just turned 3, don’t bother him.
“Hopefully,” Moulson said, “he doesn’t get sick of the Moulson family.”
To help Eichel acclimate to his new life, Moulson, 31, and his wife, Alicia, recently offered their home to the phenom, the second overall pick in June and one of the biggest NHL prospects in years. Eichel, who will be under an enormous amount of pressure throughout his first season, liked the idea and accepted.
“Maybe you don’t have to worry about life things, doing laundry and cooking meals,” Moulson said. “It’s just making him comfortable. He seems like a great kid.”
He added: “He just has to worry about scoring and making sure we get wins.”
Moulson said it was a “family decision” to invite Eichel.
“My wife, she likes to take people in and treat them like her own,” he said. “It was just something we’d be more than happy to do. Luckily, it’s worked. Assuming everything goes good, hopefully he’ll be having a good time with the Moulsons.”
Moulson lived with another touted rookie center six years ago, when he shared Doug Weight’s guesthouse with teenage sensation John Tavares, the first overall pick by the New York Islanders months earlier. The housemates quickly became close friends and a dynamic presence together on the ice, developing into one of the league’s top center-wing duos.
“He’s one of my best friends,” Moulson said about Tavares. “I think sometimes when you have a kid … thrust into a bigtime role just like Johnny was, a lot of expectations, it makes it easier with someone who’s kind of been through things. Obviously, I was never thrust into the role or have as much skill as he has or will. It makes it easier when you’ve had somebody who’s been through things.
“These kids that come in, they’ll have a bad game or something like that, think it’s the end of the world. I think having someone there letting them know it’s 82 games, it’s a long road, making sure they’re comfortable, is a big thing. That definitely went into our decision to offer (Eichel) a room in our house.”
Moulson, having scored 154 goals in his 474-game career, is one of the most accomplished Sabres. Still, the winger doesn’t “know what it feels like to be in (Eichel’s) shoes.” Moulson was freshman at Cornell University at 18, still five years away from his NHL debut.
“You can look back now and realize how much you grow as a person,” Moulson said. “So he’s obviously going to learn a lot about life and hockey. He seems like a good kid. I got to meet his father. He seems like a great person as well. I think it’s exciting. As much as we’re there to help, he has a youthful energy about him that will hopefully help myself as well.”