Sabres could lock up Jack Eichel with a deal similar to Connor McDavid's extension

Before the Buffalo Sabres replaced coach Dan Bylsma with Phil Housley this offseason, there was word that center Jack Eichel would not engage in any contract extension talks with the team that took him second overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

The rumor stemmed from a report by WGR 550's Paul Hamilton and was later denied by Eichel's representatives. But talk of displeasure in the Sabres organization was rampant until both Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray were, in fact, cut loose.

Now, with former Pittsburgh Penguins associate GM Jason Botterill running the front office in Buffalo, things have changed. And lots of money could be involved.

The Sabres are apparently on the fast track to locking up the 20-year-old Eichel, who is entering the final season of his three-year contract. And a potential extension, according to NHL.com, could mirror the $12.5 million average that Connor McDavid landed in Edmonton earlier this month.

The signing of center Jack Eichel to a contract extension has become the No. 1 priority of the Buffalo Sabres ... After Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid signed an eight-year, $100 million contract on July 5, the Sabres are hoping to complete a similar contract with Eichel, the No. 2 pick behind McDavid in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Botterill, for what it's worth, has already confirmed the Sabres' interest in re-signing Eichel. And he was quick to lump the team's young center into the "elite" category when describing contract talks, per the NHL, marking quite the contrast between reported feelings between Eichel and Sabres leadership during the 2016-17 season.

"I've been through those discussions before," Botterill said of extension discussions via NHL.com. "Whenever we did [contracts for] Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang, you're excited to get an elite player under contract."

Eichel scored 24 goals for the Sabres in 2016-17 despite missing 21 games due to an ankle injury. The season before, as a rookie, he became the youngest player in franchise history to score a goal and led Buffalo in that category with 24.

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