Jack Eichel is producing at a high level once again this year, this time for a Buffalo Sabres team that is not abysmal, but still no one is really noticing.
With an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel just barely extended his career-best point scoring streak to 13 games. He has posted 23 points over that span (10 goals and 13 assists) as the Sabres have gone 5-5-3 over the past few weeks. Eichel had two goals and five assists over his last four games and was named the NHL’s third star for the week ending Sunday.
Over his first four NHL seasons, with some injuries mixed in, Eichel has produced at nearly a point per game level (259 points in 286 games; 0.91 points per game). But the Sabres finished no better than sixth in the Atlantic Division in any of those years — and were in last place twice — with a combined record of 126-157-45.
As evidence of how bad Buffalo has been, first-year coach Ralph Krueger is already Eichel’s third lead man behind the bench, following Dan Bylsma and Phil Housley. Overall the Sabres have missed the playoffs in eight straight seasons, without a winning record in the last seven campaigns.
Eichel’s current hot streak has pushed him up to 42 points (seventh in the league entering Monday with 18 goals and 24 assists) in 31 games this season. The Sabres are fourth in the Atlantic with a 14-11-6 record (34 points) right now, with a plus-one goal differential. Compare that to the last two seasons, with substantial negative goal differentials of minus-45 (2018-19) and minus-81 (2017-18), and it’s worth wondering if Buffalo can stick around in the mix as a contender for awhile.
Eichel was the No. 2 pick in the same draft where Connor McDavid went No. 1, so it seems like he’ll always be something of a second fiddle by comparison. But he’s on fire right now and the Sabres look better, so let’s take notice of what Eichel is doing.