BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Jack Eichel has been missing a strong supporting cast around him but now he just a gained former league MVP as his new linemate when the Sabres signed Taylor Hall.
“There’s no doubt about it that him being there is a big reason why I chose Buffalo,” Hall said on a zoom call with reporters.
Hall signed a one-year deal worth $8 million as the Buffalo landed the most sought-after free agent forward on the market.
Even though Hall said head coach Ralph Krueger didn’t tell him he will exclusively play with Eichel, the thought is Hall will slide in at left wing alongside Eichel on their top line, making a dangerous combination.
“That’s definitely going to be an overriding option of the two of them. I know both players so well and the power that they bring and the speed with which they can execute and the puck possession that they have makes it very exciting,” Krueger said on a zoom call.
“When Ralph talked to me he thinks that we’re a really good pair not only on the ice but he feels like he have the same personality and we’re gonna gel well. That meant a lot coming from Ralph, he doesn’t just say that,” Hall explained.
“You have to be excited when you think of two elite forwards of that caliber attacking the opposition with the system that we have. It will be lethal,” Krueger said.
The Sabres captain continues to take his game to the next level year after year. Even in the shortened season, Eichel scored a career-high 36 goals last year and 78 points which was just four shy of his career-high set the season before.
But Eichel has yet to make the playoffs in his five seasons with the Sabres and after they failed to make the expanded 24-team postseason as part of the NHL’s return to play format, Eichel voiced his frustration in May and said he was “sick of losing.” Now adding the 2018 Hart Trophy winner could be a step towards ending the league’s longest, active postseason drought.
“He’s an amazing hockey player. I think that he took a great step last year, now it’s about can we find a way to get him in the playoffs and really produce on a stage that I feel that he deserves,” Hall said.
As far as what that top line would look like on the right side with Eichel and Hall, Krueger says there are all of options they can plug in.
“It’ll also give Jack some space, some more space and possibly a little bit less of a focus will be on him,” Krueger said. We see that initially you know after this short period of contemplation as a strong option. There’s multiple, multiple players that can go with them on the right side, that would still be open.Depending on the game, depending on the opposition, depending on at home or on the road there might be variations to on that theme,” Krueger explained.
“I’m excited to get on the ice with him and hopefully we can along with everyone else on the team, hopefully we can have a good year and take a step individually and as a team,” Hall said.