Forward Jack Eichel continues to negotiate what he hopes will be a long-term contract with the Buffalo Sabres, he told the Lowell Sun in remarks published Friday.
"We're in the midst of it. It's between my agent and [general manager Jason] Botterill," the 20-year-old said. "I'm just going to work hard this summer. All of that tends to take care of itself. Obviously the contract is important. But for me it's all about the play."
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Eichel and the Sabres reportedly are negotiating an eight-year extension that would begin next season. This will be the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract, which has an NHL salary cap charge of $925,000.
"I've made it clear that I want to be a Sabre," said Eichel, who can become a restricted free agent after this season. "I want to be in Buffalo when we start winning. I want to reward the city. It's been two great years. I don't want to go anywhere else."
Sabres owner Terry Pegula said Aug. 2 that "we want Jack and Jack wants to be in Buffalo."
Eichel was the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid, who won the NHL scoring title last season, signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension ($12.5 million average annual value) on July 5. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, signed an eight-year, $68 million extension ($8.5 million AAV) on Wednesday.
Video: TOR@BUF: Eichel pots backhand goal on breakaway
Eichel had 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 61 games last season after missing the first 21 games with a high ankle sprain sustained on the eve of the season opener. The Sabres missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth straight season, and coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray were fired. Jason Botterill was hired as GM on May 11, and Phil Housley was named coach June 15.
"A bit of change might have been good for us," Eichel said. "We're trying to build a positive culture. It is frustrating. You want to win. The NHL is a hard league and it's very competitive."