Jack Eichel

NHL Notes: Sabres' Eichel gets $80M deal; Capitals' Wilson banned 4 games

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NHL Notes: Sabres' Eichel gets $80M deal; Capitals' Wilson banned 4 games

BUFFALO, New York -- The Buffalo Sabres have reached an agreement to sign their franchise player, Jack Eichel, to an NHL-maximum eight-year, $80 million contract.

The team announced the signing on its twitter account on Tuesday night in a deal reached two days before Buffalo hosts the Montreal Canadiens in the season opener.

Eichel is entering the final year of his three-year entry level contract and only eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer.

The deal was reached after talks had cooled for much of the past six weeks.

Eichel was the second player selected in the 2015 draft, one spot behind Edmonton's Connor McDavid. The Oilers' captain signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension in July, making him the NHL's top-paid player on a per-season basis.

In averaging $10 million per season, Eichel ties Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar on the NHL list of annual average salaries (see full story).

Capitals: Wilson suspended 4 games for boarding
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals right winger Tom Wilson for four games for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais.

The league's department of player safety announced the suspension Tuesday.

Wilson will forfeit $97,561 in salary. Even though this is the first regular-season suspension of his NHL career, Wilson is considered a repeat offender after being suspended for two preseason games for a late hit on Blues rookie Robert Thomas last month.

The 23-year old will miss games against the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. He'll be eligible to return Oct. 13 against the New Jersey Devils.

Wilson said Tuesday he's a player who finishes big checks, which makes him the subject of attention (see full story).

Penguins: Murray ready to take mantle from Fleury
PITTSBURGH -- Matt Murray jokes he can't help but do a double take whenever he sees a No. 30 Pittsburgh Penguins jersey in public.

"I still think it's a family member or something," the Penguins goaltender said with a laugh.

Hard to blame him. Two years ago, Murray was still in the minors, a 21-year-old long on promise but whose time as the heir apparent to Marc-Andre Fleury was still off somewhere in the gauzy distance.

Like seemingly everything else in Murray's burgeoning career, the future arrived ahead of schedule. Funny how winning a pair of Stanley Cup championships speeds things up.

When Murray skates onto the PPG Arena ice on Wednesday night for the season opener against St. Louis, he'll do it for the first time as a true No. 1 NHL goalie. No more of the "Murray vs. Fleury" debates that raged across social media and talk radio -- but never in the Penguins dressing room -- during their professional if occasionally uncomfortable coexistence.

The gig is Murray's. For now and for later.

Even with his name stenciled on his sport's most prized possession -- twice -- he's in no mood for a victory lap.

"I think there's always something to prove," Murray said. "Nothing's given to you in this league that's for sure. You've got to keep your foot on the gas pedal and that's what I intend to do. I don't feel like I've earned anything."

NHL Notes: Sabres star Jack Eichel focused on hockey, not contract talks

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NHL Notes: Sabres star Jack Eichel focused on hockey, not contract talks

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres star center Jack Eichel is focused on taking on a larger leadership role, and not concerning himself with contract talks -- even it means waiting until next year to sign a new deal.

"I have no problem playing the season out and just trying to earn whatever," Eichel said Tuesday. "We know where we stand. We know where the Sabres stand. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

Eichel also reiterated his commitment to staying in Buffalo on a long-term basis. He spoke after taking part in his first on-ice session with numerous teammates in Buffalo a little over a week before the Sabres open training camp.

The 20-year-old is entering the final season of his three-year rookie contract, and in line for what is projected to be a lucrative contract extension.

A person with direct knowledge of talks told The Associated Press last month that both sides have discussed a contract spanning an NHL-maximum eight seasons . The same person told The AP on Tuesday that negotiations haven't stopped since the two sides formally opened talks in June. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations have been private (see full story).

Hurricanes: New-look team ready to snap postseason drought
RALEIGH, N.C. -- There's plenty new for the Carolina Hurricanes these days.

They picked up a new starting goalie, gave big new contracts to some young defensemen and brought in a splashy free agent. There also might be a new team owner signing their paychecks.

With a little over a week until preseason camp begins, there's also a new feeling of justified optimism surrounding an organization that owns the NHL's longest active postseason drought.

"I can't wait," defenseman Jaccob Slavin said Tuesday. "I'm so excited for it, and I can't wait to see what this season has and what the future holds as well -- but more importantly, the season right here" (see full story).

Sabres: Healthy Okposo eager to look forward
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo happily looks to the future now that he's fully recovered from concussion-related symptoms which nearly derailed his career in March.

Saying he's not dwelling on the past, Okposo was eager to rejoin the Sabres after skating with numerous teammates for practice a little more than a week before the team opens training camp. Though he's has been skating for much of the summer, Tuesday marked his first time on the ice in Buffalo since being hospitalized late last season.

"It was obviously a tough situation, a tough road," Okposo said. "I'm just happy to be back and happy to be able to play again, and play at a high level."

He acknowledged questioning if he would ever get better before he started feeling "clear" in May.

"It was definitely a scary thing," Okposo said. "Your mind starts to question a lot of things" (see full story).

Rangers: Leetch, Richards hired as advisers
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have hired former players Brian Leetch and Brad Richards as advisers.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the hires Tuesday. Leetch and Richards will work on prospect development and assist with on-ice development for the Rangers and their top affiliate, the American Hockey League's Hartford Wolf Pack.

These are the latest moves in an offseason that already included former captain and assistant general manager Chris Drury taking over GM duties in Hartford and New York hiring longtime NHL head coach Lindy Ruff as an assistant on Alain Vigneault's staff.

Leetch played parts of 17 seasons with the Rangers during his Hall of Fame career and was the top defenseman on the team that broke the franchise's Stanley Cup drought in 1994. Richards played three seasons in New York from 2011-2014, helping the Rangers reach the 2014 Cup Final.

NHL Notes: Jack Eichel, Sabres reportedly negotiating 8-year contract

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NHL Notes: Jack Eichel, Sabres reportedly negotiating 8-year contract

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A person familiar with negotiations tells The Associated Press the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel are discussing a contract extension that could run the NHL maximum eight years.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday because the talks have been private since formal negotiations began a little over a month ago.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula declined to assess the status of negotiations except to say no deadline has been set and that both sides are committed to reaching a deal.

"I can tell you this, We want Jack and Jack wants to be in Buffalo," Pegula said during a news conference at the Buffalo Bills training camp site in suburban Rochester. Pegula also owns the Bills.

In a text to The AP, Eichel's agent Peter Fish wrote: "We are talking and I would say that we will be continuing to talk" (see full story).

Wild: Granlund says team ‘can do some damage’ in playoffs
This offseason for the Minnesota Wild was never going to be about making major additions.

This was simply the summer of maintenance and sustenance, with a new contract for Mikael Granlund one of the biggest priorities.

Now that Granlund has agreed to the deal, for $17.25 million over three years, the dynamic Finnish forward has his focus on a much deeper push by the Wild through the playoffs. Performing up to the value of the contract is not his concern.

Even without obvious roster upgrades after a five-game loss in the first round to St. Louis, the strength of the core that fueled a top-five finish in the NHL regular season has not diminished.

"There's always something to prove, but I think the biggest thing is as a team I really want us to make a deeper playoff run," Granlund said Wednesday on a conference call. "Obviously we need to make it to playoffs first, but I think we have a really good group of guys and we can do some damage" (see full story).

Penguins: Preseason game moved from ‘Hockeyville’ winner
PITTSBURGH -- A suburban Pittsburgh ice rink that won the right to host a Pittsburgh Penguins preseason contest will instead have to settle for a ticketed practice by the Stanley Cup champions after the facility was deemed unfit to host an NHL game.

Rostraver Ice Rink in Belle Vernon -- about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh -- won an online contest sponsored by Kraft to receive $150,000 worth of arena upgrades as well as a preseason game between the Penguins and the St. Louis Blues on Sept. 24.

Kraft announced on Wednesday it was moving the game from Rostraver Ice Rink to the Penguins' practice facility in Cranberry -- about 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh. Members of the Belle Vernon community and youth hockey players from Rostraver Ice Garden will receive the majority of the game tickets.

The rink will still receive the upgrades. The Penguins will hold a practice at Rostraver on Sept. 24 as part of four days of festivities. Pittsburgh plans to bring its game-night entertainment operation -- including music, videos, anthem singer Jeff Jimerson, P.A. announcer Ryan Mill and the Penguins Ice Crew -- to a Rostraver youth hockey game that week.