TORONTO – Shortly after the Buffalo Sabres drafted Jack Eichel second overall June 26, veteran winger Matt Moulson, his future teammate, congratulated the 18-year-old and then asked the center a surprising question.
The 31-year-old Moulson, one of the most experienced and accomplished Sabres, asked Eichel if he wanted to live with his family during his rookie season.
Eichel hadn’t made any living arrangements yet, so he decided moving in with the Moulson clan – his wife, Alicia, and two children – would be a good idea.
“I think it’s a really good move for me,” Eichel said this morning at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase inside Mattamy Athletic Centre, site of the old Maple Leaf Gardens. “He’s obviously a really good guy. He’s been around the league. So I’m really excited about it. I think it’s a really good fit for me.”
The move has some precedence. Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby famously lived with Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux’s family when he broke into the NHL 10 years ago.
Eichel, one of the greatest prospects in recent memory, will be facing an enormous amount of pressure in the upcoming season and under the microscope everywhere he goes. Having the respected Moulson around should help him acclimate to a new life.
“Everyone I know that knows him well has said great things about him,” Eichel said. “I haven’t heard a bad thing about the guy. The way he offered his house to me, it shows what kind of person he is. He’s a really generous guy. He’s a good guy to be around and people like him. I’m really excited.
“He’s somebody I can learn from. He’s been in the league a while. He’s been around a lot of great players, and I think it’s going to be a great experience for me.”
Eichel’s NHL experience starts in just 11 days when the Sabres play their first rookie camp game.
“It’s kind of exciting,” Eichel said. “It’s been a long time since I played a real game. This is what we love to do, play hockey. I can’t wait for everything to get going.”