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Eichel won't reveal decision about turning pro

by Mike G. Morreale

MIAMI -- Boston University center Jack Eichel said he has decided whether he will turn professional after he's selected in the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

He just isn't making his decision public yet.

Eichel, who was with five other top NHL draft prospects at Marlins Park on Wednesday, spoke to the media after taking his turn at batting practice prior to the Miami Marlins' game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I mean, I'm kind of set on what I want to do, but I guess you'll find out in the few days that follow the draft," Eichel said. "I have an idea what I want to do. I sat down and had dinner with [Boston University coach] David Quinn and spoke with my parents, so I have a good idea of where I want to be next year."

The first round of the draft will be held Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports); rounds 2-7 are Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports).

Eichel was joined by Erie Otters forwards Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome, London Knights center Mitchell Marner, Kingston Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse and Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin. McDavid, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the draft, and Eichel, who's No. 2, each had the honor of throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

"I played baseball when I was younger and did pitch," Eichel said. "When I was in Little League, I could throw strikes but couldn't throw hard."

It was then that Eichel was informed that Billy the Marlin, Miami's mascot, would serve as catcher for the ceremonial first pitch.

"Good," he said. "I'll need a big target."

Eichel is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 2 pick in the draft after McDavid is chosen first by the Edmonton Oilers. Many anticipate Eichel, winner of the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's best player, as well as Hockey East Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors, to be playing in the NHL in 2015-16.

He is the third player in conference history to win player of the year and rookie of the year honors in the same season; the others were University of Maine forward Paul Kariya (1992-93) and Boston College defenseman Brian Leetch (1986-87).

However, Eichel could decide that he has a little unfinished business to attend to after the Terriers lost 4-3 to Providence in the NCAA championship game April 11, one day after he received the Hobey Baker Award.

Eichel smiled when asked if he can believe the NHL draft is just two days away.

"It's been leading up to this for two years now; finally it's here and it's pretty cool," Eichel said. "I'm really excited. Florida is such a beautiful place to have this; a lot of my family and friends will be here and a lot of guys from Boston University are coming here because they all jumped on a chance to go to Florida."

That group includes Quinn, who was named Hockey East Coach of the Year.

"It's going to be a great experience and I'm really happy I'll be able to experience it with my family," Eichel said. "They've been waiting for it for a while, I guess."


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