Jack Eichel agreed to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. It has an average annual value of $10 million.
The 20-year-old center could have become a restricted free agent after this season. He became eligible to sign an extension on July 1.
"I'm grateful and humbled that the organization, the family [of owners Terry and Kim Pegula] and the entire city of Buffalo have put their faith in me," Eichel said Wednesday. "This city means so much to me, and I like to think I mean a lot to this city as well."
Video: Jack Eichel agrees to 8-year extension with Sabres
Eichel had 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 61 games last season; he missed nearly two months at the start with an ankle injury.
Negotiations were held throughout the offseason. The club announced the contract Tuesday night, but Eichel's teammates began finding out when members of the team were gathered together for a dinner.
Eichel said he didn't tell anyone about the contract when he arrived at the dinner, but word quickly spread as players looked at their phones. Soon players were looking at him and laughing.
"That was a little awkward," Eichel said with a laugh.
It was a humorous ending to what Eichel admitted was an emotional day for him and his family.
As the details of the contract got hammered out, he spent a lot of time talking to his family and reflecting on the path that brought him to the precipice of signing the richest contract in the history of the franchise.
"It's a bit overwhelming," Eichel said. "It's pretty emotional thinking about everything your family has gone through and everything your parents have done for you to get to this point. I don't think it has really still hit me completely."
Eichel was the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, who last season won the NHL scoring title and signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension ($12.5 million AAV) on July 5. Eichel will play the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract, with an NHL salary cap charge of $925,000.