Not long ago, Jack Eichel was considered one of the games best players. In fact, less than two years ago, an article posted on the NHL’s website ranked him as the sixth best centerman in the league. Since that time, however, things have changed in a big way.
Due to a herniated disc in his neck which required surgery, the 25-year-old has been limited to just 55 games over the past two seasons, and has struggled during that time with 16 goals and 45 points. For some, those are solid numbers, but for a player with Eichel’s talent they are a massive disappointment.
Many are taking notice of Eichel’s struggles, including the NHL’s annual top 50 players list, one in which Eichel ranked 41st on. It is a serious fall from grace for the 2015 second overall pick, who many considered to be in a similar playing field to guys such as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews in recent years.
The good news for Eichel is that he has a great opportunity to get his career back on track in 2022-23. Now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, he will have far more talent to play alongside than he ever did during his time with the Buffalo Sabres. On top of that, he had a full summer to train and will be able to get up to game speed in training camp later this month, something he didn’t have the opportunity to do a season ago.
The Golden Knights made a huge commitment when they chose to acquire Eichel, not only giving up a big haul but also taking on the final five years of his contract that carries a cap hit of $10 million. It was a move that many considered risky at the time given the severity of his neck injury, and that narrative has yet to change. That said, if Eichel is able to go out and have a great 2022-23 season, any past doubts will be put in the past, and he will absolutely move back into the upper echelon of players throughout the entire league. By all accounts he is highly motivated, but whether that will translate into on ice success remains to be seen from the once considered generational talent.
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