Saint John Pursuing Eichel, OHL Move as Unlikely
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
On Friday, TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted there were "whispers" that Boston University recruit Jack Eichel, considered one of the top players eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, was considering, "not going to BU if he could play head-to-head vs. Connor McDavid," another top player eligible for the 2015 draft.
Eichel's Canadian Hockey League rights are owned by the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Under league jurisdiction rules, Massachusetts players — Eichel is from Chelmsford, Mass. — are eligible for the QMJHL draft.
McDavid plays for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.
The only way for Eichel to play in the OHL is if the Sea Dogs waived him, and every other QMJHL team declined to put in a claim, making him a CHL free agent.
"There is no way we're ever going to let him go to the Ontario Hockey League and I don't see any way he could get waived through our league," Saint John GM Darrell Young said on Friday. "Especially with a team like Quebec, which is looking to host the 2015 Memorial Cup. Quebec is also trying to get [BC recruit] Noah Hanafin. I can't foresee that happening, him clearing waivers, he's just too good of a player."
Young, who took over as GM on March 1, said he is in the process of contacting the Eichel family and hopes to meet with them in Boston this upcoming week in an effort to sign him to the Sea Dogs.
Eichel is slated to start his career at BU this coming fall.
"I'm in the process of contacting the Eichel family and hopefully getting a meeting with the family this upcoming week in Boston," Young said. "Players come to this league and excel. I can't see us letting a player of that magnitude go. We know he's a one-year player in our league, but he's a one-year player whether he goes to BU or comes here to Saint John. He's going to play in the National Hockey Leauge."
Eichel is currently playing for the U.S. National Development Program.
"I don't see anybody in this league allowing [a move to the OHL] to happen," Young said. "How can you let a player of that magnitude slip? When you look at a team like ours, with him and a few good European players, we're a bonafide contender. You look at a team like Quebec, who is looking to host the Memorial Cup next year, and they're pursuing Hanafin. They've also had good history of American players with Josh Hennessy and Adam Erne there now.
"My first option is to get him in s Sea Dog Uniform. He could have gone to Halifax last year and didn't, and they had Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin who went No. 1 and No. 3 in the draft, they have a great building and fan support just like we do. There's hope there for us, but how much I'm not really sure."