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Jack Eichel drafted No. 2 by Buffalo Sabres

by Mike G. Morreale

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray minced few words and left little doubt when choosing Boston University center Jack Eichel with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft on Friday at BB&T Center.

After stepping to the podium, Murray looked straight ahead and announced "Buffalo selects Jack Eichel" before dropping the microphone and stepping aside while awaiting his projected star to make his way to the stage.

"It's tough to put into words right now," Eichel said. "Looking back on entire year, it's been the best year of my life, but until you hear your name called and you go on that stage and put a jersey on, there's nothing like it. It's an unbelievable feeling."

Eichel, who led the NCAA with 45 assists, 71 points, a plus-51 rating and 23 power-play points, said he hasn't determined whether he will return to Boston University for his sophomore season or turn professional. Boston University coach David Quinn told on Wednesday that he believes Eichel will play in the NHL "all next season."

"I don't know; I can't let the cat out of the bag," Eichel said.

Eichel joined Paul Kariya of Maine as the only freshmen to win the Hobey Baker Award, given to the best NCAA player. Eichel was named Hockey East Player of the Year and Hockey East Rookie of the Year, and helped BU reach the NCAA championship game, where it lost to Providence College.

"I think Buffalo as a city and the Sabres as team are headed in good direction," Eichel said. "You look at the moves they made and the guys they acquired [on Friday] and the guys in their system, there's a lot of positives. I just want to be a piece of the puzzle. Buffalo wants success and they want success soon and I think that's what is going to happen."

Boston University had a bounce-back season with Eichel. The Terriers finished 28-8-5, one year removed from 10-21-4, the fifth-best turnaround in NCAA Division 1 history. The school won the Beanpot, the Hockey East regular-season trophy, and the Hockey East tournament. The Terriers lost the NCAA tournament championship game to Providence 4-3, one day after Eichel received the Hobey Baker.

Eichel won a bronze medal representing the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic, scoring two goals and seven points in 10 games. He skated primarily with forwards Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings) and Brock Nelson (New York Islanders).

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma was an assistant coach for the U.S. Men's National Team at the World Championship.

"You're talking about an elite player with elite speed and ability to accelerate down the ice," Bylsma said. "He makes everyone on the bench and in the stands notice him right away. To be able to add that to our team is pretty exciting."

Eichel excelled at two international tournaments for the United States. He was the captain at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and had one goal and three assists in five games. He helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship with two goals and seven points in 10 games.

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