After another disappointing season in Buffalo, former Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly offered his brutally honest analysis of the team and how he felt dealing with another failed season in Western New York. While we heard it from O’Reilly’s mouth there was a “loss of love for the game, it happened to other Sabres players last season. They might not have said as much, but it showed.
Between locker room cleanout and the draft lottery, besides salivating at the idea of getting Rasmus Dahlin, chatter on social media echoed my sentiments: It’s time to name Jack Eichel the captain of the Buffalo Sabres.
With all due respect to Rasmus Dahlin, he is a fantastic young player and sounds like a nice, genuine kid. Tip your cap to his upbringing and his parents, as he’s handled the entire draft process like a pro. He’ll dawn a letter on his jersey at some point, but I would believe not until his entry level contract is up.
Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill spoke multiple times on tempering expectations for the Swede, unlike what Eichel went through as the “savior” of the team. Eichel was thrown in to be a huge part of the Sabres his first season by the regime run by Tim Murray. There will be patience from management with Dahlin, I advise Sabres fans to do the same.
None of this is a knock on what Dahlin will bring to the Sabres, but Buffalo is still Jack Eichel’s team. Frankly, I don’t think Dahlin would want to be handed the keys to a franchise his rookie year like Eichel was, making this the best situation for him. He has young players around him who know a thing or two about being held in high regard, who will teach him how to handle it better than what Eichel went through.
It’s hard not to get distracted with all of the hype and build up attributed to inserting Dahlin into the Sabres lineup. How can you not? Just don’t let it deter you from the overall picture of the Sabres. Eichel became the voice of the team over the past year off the ice. He took questions like a captain would while having the entire Sabres franchise on his shoulders.
Another viewpoint is the Sabres need Eichel to be their clear-cut captain from a business standpoint. Anyone on any level sports team knows the captaincy needs to be earned, which I believe it has, but think about the financial side. The Sabres need to start seeing a return on investment with Eichel. He’s making $2.5 million more than the next highest player on the Sabres, being Ryan O’Reilly at $7.5 million/year.
I won’t hold Eichel’s highest point total of 64 points (2017-18) against him, second on the team was O’Reilly with 61 points in 81 games and third was Sam Reinhart with 50 points in 82 games. A subpar supporting cast along with injury issues, 64 points in 67 games is still impressive, but $10 millon impressive?
Fans and commentators shouldn’t answer this until his teammates are up to snuff and he is able to play an entire season, but keep in the back of your mind the Buffalo Sabres are a business. They want to see the most return on their investment, which includes leading the team on and off the ice.
So, with Eichel earning his captaincy through his play with a less than stellar team and his improved off ice maturity in the locker room, the Sabres are Eichel’s team. This isn’t the hottest take, but it needed to be said to bring us back to earth a bit, especially after snatching another top prospect in Dahlin.
I’d like to say thank you to The Charging Buffalo for allowing me the platform to express my thoughts on the Buffalo Sabres and the followers/readers for taking the time to read our content. All opinions are my own and if you disagree, I’m more than happy to have an open discussion. Follow me on Twitter: @BillTCB and The Charging Buffalo: @TheChargingBUF