Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel is willing to play the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract without an extension, he told WGR Sports Radio in Buffalo on Tuesday.
"I have no problem playing the year out -- if that happens, it happens," Eichel said. "I'm pretty adamant about staying a Sabre and staying in Buffalo, but it's not something I can really control. I can just control my play. I want to bring some new excitement to this town and the contract thing will take care of itself."
Eichel and the Sabres reportedly are negotiating an eight-year extension that would begin in 2018-19. His current contract has an NHL salary cap charge of $925,000.
"I know where we stand, I know where the Sabres stand," said Eichel, who told the Lowell Sun in remarks published Aug. 18 that he and the Sabres were negotiating. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I have no problem playing the season out and just try to earn whatever."
Video: Discussing Jack Eichel's next contract
Eichel was the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. McDavid won the NHL scoring title (100 points) and the Hart Trophy as League MVP last season, and 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 Aug. 16.
"There's lot of young guys that are coming in and having big impacts on their teams," Eichel said. "Guys are working hard, guys are making an impact on their team and getting rewarded for it. If they've earned it, they've earned it. There's obviously a new market out there in terms of money paying for young kids. I try not to think too much about that stuff. I can control what I can control, and that's how I play and I how I prepare for every day. That sort of thing takes care of itself."
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 before firing coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray. Jason Botterill was hired as GM on May 11, and Phil Housley was named coach June 15.
Eichel is also looking for a bigger leadership role. Buffalo is without a captain with veteran center Brian Gionta, who served that role for the past three seasons, unsigned.
"That's a big goal of mine and something I need to do," Eichel said. "I look at myself to be one of the leaders on this team and a guy that's going to push this organization to the next level. If that's going to be the case, I've got to be a guy that everybody leans on and I've got to be better on and off the ice. If I do that, I think guys will follow and we'll be successful.
"Every year you try to become a little bit more mature and you try to handle your business a little bit better, the way you approach everything, whether that's your day to day at the rink or how I handle [the media] It's all new. It seems like I've been doing it a while, but its only my third year, so I just want to keep getting better at everything."