BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Motivated to be better, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel called his first two NHL seasons as being “mediocre” upon arriving at training camp last month.
There’s nothing substandard about the eight-year, $80-million contract extension the 20-year-old center agreed to on Tuesday.
The deal was reached two days before the Sabres open the season hosting Montreal. And it ended months of negotiations while coming after talks had stalled over the past six weeks.
The contract, which won’t kick in until next season, will make Eichel the highest-paid player in franchise history.
In averaging $10 million per season, Eichel ties Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar on the NHL list of annual average salaries, according to Spotrac.com. Overall, the contract’s total value is tied for 10th with Kopitar on the NHL list.
Eichel was entering the final year of his three-year entry level contract and only eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer.
Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, credited his client for prompting the deal to be completed after previously saying he would be open to playing out the season without an extension.
“We just happened to have a conversation today, going back and forth on the numbers, and Jack was really like, ‘Let’s get this done,’” Fish told The Associated Press by phone. “Jack felt getting a deal done now was the right thing to do for both sides.”