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Murray: In combine interview, Eichel said he’ll be better than McDavid

Czech Republic Hockey Worlds

Jack Eichel of USA, center, removes his helmet after his team lost, final score 5-2 the Hockey World Championships Group B match against Belarus in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Thursday, May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)


Sounds like Jack Eichel isn’t lacking in the confidence department.

In a radio interview with WGR 550, Buffalo GM Tim Murray -- who recently interviewed Eichel at the ongoing NHL Scouting Combine -- dropped a few nuggets from his talk with the Boston University superstar, and confirmed a Boston Globe report that Eichel has been telling teams he’ll be better than the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, Connor McDavid.

“He said that,” Murray explained. “He also said to me that they were pretty happy after the draft lottery. He said ‘you may have been disappointed, but you shouldn’t be disappointed.’”

Eichel was likely referring to Murray’s now-infamous comments, in which he likened losing the lottery to getting cut from the Canadian junior team, adding he felt bad for Sabres fans that “were extremely excited about McDavid.”

Murray since clarified his remarks -- saying he was upset by how the lottery transpired, not the player he was getting -- and, to be fair, Eichel handled the remarks like a pro. In speaking with PHT shortly after the lottery, he said he understood where Murray was coming from.

“Who doesn’t want to be first?” Eichel said. “You have all the options there. I’m sure he may be disappointed but it’s a very deep draft class and there’s a lot of good players.”

As for Eichel’s latest remarks about eventually being superior to McDavid, Murray was pretty pleased to hear them.

“I think he should say that,” the Sabres GM explained. “Why not say that? I think he believes it. I think the way he played this season, we called it a two-horse race all year, so why should he not believe that?

“His skill set, his whole package -- size, skating ability, puck skills, hockey sense -- he’s confident in it. He backed up that confidence with his play this year.”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the aftermath. While Murray clearly likes Eichel’s confidence, it’s hard to see the upside in going public with what was said in a combine interview -- especially since, barring something wild happening, Eichel will become Sabres property later this month.