Jack Robert Eichel (born October 28, 1996) is an American professional ice hockey centre. He currently plays for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League. Eichel was selected second overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. Described at the age of 17 as "the new face of American hockey," Eichel is considered a member of a rising class of generational talents in the sport, along with Connor McDavid.
Eichel was the recipient of the 2015 Hobey Baker Award, given to the top National Collegiate Athletic Association men's ice hockey player. He was the second freshman to win the award and the first since Paul Kariya in 1993.
Eichel played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program team during the 2012–13 and 2013–14 seasons, and was recognized for his outstanding play during the 2013–14 season when he was named to the United States Hockey League Second All-Star Team. After his second season within the Development Program, Eichel signed a letter of intent to commit to Boston University of the Hockey East on April 29, 2014.
On April 10, 2015, Eichel became the second freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award, which was previously won by Paul Kariya in 1993. In 40 games with Boston University, Eichel led the nation in scoring with 26 goals, 45 assists, and 71 points. Eichel was also the Hockey East scoring champion, Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, First Team Hockey East and a member of the All-Rookie Team, and was named MVP of the conference tournament. Eichel was projected to be the second overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft behind projected first overall pick Connor McDavid.
On June 26, 2015, Eichel was selected 2nd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, one pick after the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid. In the months leading up to the draft, considerable interest and hype arose surrounding Eichel and McDavid, both seen as generational talents. For example, the sports section of the Buffalo News regularly published the "McEichel Derby," a graphic of the teams at the bottom of the standings. On July 1, 2015, Eichel signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Sabres.
On August 13, 2015, Eichel signed a sponsorship deal with Bauer Hockey, which states Eichel will wear its equipment exclusively and Bauer will provide him with its apparel.
Eichel scored his first NHL goal on October 8, 2015, becoming the youngest player in Sabres history to do so, in his first game in the NHL against the Ottawa Senators. He finished his rookie campaign with 24 goals and 56 points in 81 games, being the Sabres' top goalscorer and second in points (after Ryan O'Reilly) and second in both criteria among rookies, after Artemi Panarin. On October 12, 2016, Eichel suffered a severe high ankle sprain to his left ankle in practice and had to be helped off of the ice; he missed the first two months of the season before making his season debut on November 29. He finished the year with 24 goals and 33 assists in just 61 games.
As a 15-year-old Eichel represented the United States at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics. He won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2013 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and a silver medal at the 2013 IIHF World U18 Championships. The following season he helped the USA squad capture the gold medal at the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championships, and he competed as a 17-year-old as Team USA's youngest player at the 2014 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. Eichel represented Team USA in the 2015 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. At the conclusion of his freshman season with the Terriers, Eichel was named to make his full international debut with Team USA at the 2015 World Championships. Eichel scored 2 goals, including a game winner in the group stage against Slovakia, and 5 assists during the tournament, where Team USA won bronze. Eichel has recently been selected to the 2017 Team USA IIHF World Championship roster