BUFFALO – By dinnertime Tuesday night, as Jack Eichel sat on the couch enjoying a meal with two teammates, the young Sabres star was still hush-hush about the eight-year, $80 million contract extension he had just signed.
“I didn’t really tell anyone for a while,” Eichel said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center.
But by the time Eichel, 20, returned to dinner after taking a congratulatory call from Sabres owner Terry Pegula, word had spread on Twitter about his massive new deal.
Teammates Jake McCabe and Sam Reinhart, Eichel said, “just kind of looked at me.”
“I didn’t say anything,” he said. “They just started laughing and congratulated me. It was a nice moment.”
The last day has been filled with nice moments for Eichel, the face of the franchise.
Eichel, of course, acknowledged he will be earning a lot of money. But he committed to Buffalo and the Sabres for more than dollars. Since arriving in town just over two years ago as the second overall pick, Eichel has consistently talked about his appreciation for the city, its people and the support the organization has given him.
“This city means so much to me,” he said. “I like to think I mean a lot to this city as well. This organization has been nothing but great to me since the day I walked in the doors, have given me every opportunity I wanted.”
He added: “It was pretty obvious both sides wanted eight years. I told my agents I wanted to be here for as long as I could.”
Eichel’s contract has $15 million in signing bonuses, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. He gets $7.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2022-23.
The Sabres started talking to Eichel’s agents in the summer, general manager Jason Botterill said. Talks then heated up during training camp.
“Leading up to the last couple weeks, we talked about the possibility of trying to get it done before the start of the season would be best for all parties involved,” Botterill said. “At the end of the day, I think there was compromise from both sides.”
Check back later for a full story on Eichel’s new deal and what it means.
“I owe it to (my teammates) and I think I owe it to myself to do something special here with the group of guys we have in the room,” Eichel said. “With the organization, the people we have here, it’s really exciting times.”