Agent: Eichel prepared to enter season without contract extension

by
Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

The Buffalo Sabres don't appear to be any closer to inking center Jack Eichel to a long-term extension.

In fact, talks between the two sides have recently died down, Eichel's agent, Peter Donatelli, told Matthew Bove of WKBW.

"Right now, Jack is planning on starting the season," Donatelli said. "Whether or not he has a contract extension prior to the season, we do not know and is not his main focus going into camp."

While Eichel seems fully prepared to enter 2017-18 on the final year of his entry-level deal, he hasn't closed the door on negotiating once the puck drops. That's a different tune from some players, who prefer to avoid the distraction of in-season contract talks.

"I have no problem playing the year out," Eichel told Paul Hamilton of WGR 550, according to Bove. "I'm adamant about staying a Sabre, I want to bring some new excitement to this town and the contract thing will take care of itself.

"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. So I've got to be a guy that everybody leans on and I've got to be better on and off the ice."

Last month, Jason Botterill, the first-year general manager of the Sabres, noted he'd like to re-sign Eichel for eight years, the maximum contract term permitted by the NHL.

The second overall pick in the 2015 draft, Eichel finished first on the Sabres in scoring last year with 57 points, despite missing the first 21 games of the season after he suffered a high-ankle sprain.