Massachusetts has a long and stellar history of producing high quality hockey players. From the 1980 Olympics when Jack O’Callahan, Jim Craig and Mike Eruzione sparked Team USA to a “Miracle” Gold Medal to the 1990s when Jeremy Roenick and Keith Tkachuk were NHL superstars to the present day with rising stars Charlie Coyle and Chris Kreider. 17-year-old Jack Eichel could go on to be better than all of them.
A native of Chelmsford, MA and product of the Boston Junior Bruins program, Eichel has been playing a level above his age group since his youth hockey days. At age 15, Eichel left the Bay State to skate with the US National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During his time in Ann Arbor he had one of the most decorated tenures in the program’s illustrious history.
Eichel became the fourth highest scoring player to play for the US Development and two of the players ahead of him you may have heard of; Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane. Due to his late 1996 birthday Eichel will not be NHL draft eligible until 2015, where he is just behind Canadian phenom Connor McDavid. The competition between the two will be worth watching throughout next season as they will tussle for the No. 1 spot in the draft.
Next season Eichel will skate with the Boston University Terriers and be among the youngest players in college hockey, not turning 18 until late October. He’ll also be expected to be the star for Team USA at the World Under 20 Championships in January where he excelled as Team USA’s youngest player last season. The eyes of the world will be on Eichel throughout the season
A 6-foot-1 righty shooting center, who is close to 200 pounds, excels in all facets of the game and despite his youth, will be one of the best players in Hockey East next season. His game is NHL-ready and it is unlikely he will be a Terrier for more than one season as he will surely be “one and done” and in the NHL after his lone season.
The hype around Eichel is almost unparalleled, with some going as far as to say he is the best American prospect since future Hall of Famer Mike Modano in the late 1980s. Putting him ahead of the likes of Kessel, Kane and other American superstars is bold, but Eichel could exceed the hype.
One thing is for sure, Eichel will continue racking up points on the ice and turning heads off of it. Just like he always has.