After nearly a decade in the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights star Jack Eichel is finally on the verge of realizing his dream: winning for the Stanley Cup.
The memory of watching his friend and former Buffalo Sabers teammate Ryan O’Reilly lift the Cup in 2019 fueled his quest for success, and now Eichel has his own shot at lifting hockey’s most prestigious trophy.
The journey of Jack Eichel up to this point has been nothing short of remarkable. Selected by the Sabers as the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Eichel showed flashes of genius on a struggling team but never got a chance to show his talents in the playoffs.
After six seasons at Buffalo, a November 2021 trade sent him to the Golden Knights, a team hungry for a top center.
The Golden Knights not only provided Eichel with the chance to challenge for the Cup, but also provided an environment for him to thrive. They even allowed him to have groundbreaking neck surgery, an NHL first, hoping he would come to his senses. That faith paid off, as Jack Eichel returned to full fitness, contributing 25 points in 34 games last season.
The arrival of coach Bruce Cassidy, who was on the bench for the Boston Bruins during the 2019 Stanley Cup, seemed to provide the final piece of the puzzle. Jack Eichel was healthy, fit and now had a coach who understood his ambition.
Under Cassidy’s leadership, Jack Eichel flourished. In the regular season, he led the Golden Knights with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in 67 games. He continued his high-level playoff performance, leading the team with 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 17 playoff games.
His contributions go beyond his ability to score. As Cassidy said,
“Jack doesn’t need to score for us to win. We need him to play well and help us win. There are different ways to account for this other than on the scoresheet. »
Jack Eichel’s defensive efforts also proved crucial to the team’s success.
Now, with the start of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers, Jack Eichel embodies the spirit of a true team player. He remains focused on the collective goal, the strength of his team and the organization that has helped him get to this point.
In his words:
» I’m excited. This is a great opportunity for our group. We did a lot to get here and put ourselves in this position. It’s by no means easy… I’m really proud to be part of the group (with) so many great guys in this locker room. »