Boston University’s phenominal freshman forward, has been named captain of the US World Junior National Team on Tuesday afternoon. Eichel will be the No.1 or No.2 pick in the upcoming NHL draft.
While Eichel will be wearing the “C” for the Red, White, and Blue, two fellow College Hockey players will dawn an “A” for Team USA. Sophomore forward John Hayden of Yale University, and sophomore Will Butcher of the University of Denver, will serve as assistant captains. Hayden and Butcher were drafted by Chicago and Colorado respectively.
Eichel is dominating the NCAA thus far as a freshman, putting up eight goals and 19 assists in only 16 College Hockey games, and leading the NCAA in points. Knowing that this may be a leap to say, but Eichel’s play through the first part of his first College Hockey season, I cant help but think of other dominant freshman, and immediately Phil Kessel (Minnesota) and Paul Kariya (Maine) come to mind. Both Kessel and Kariya put up unbelievable numbers in a league that makes producing extremely difficult, let alone to do so as a freshman.
Now Eichel looks to do what both of those players did at a young age, carry a terrific first half of college play, into a breakout World Junior performance. Kessel’s freshman year, 2005-2006, he lead the tournament in scoring with 11 points. At the 1993 WJC, Kariya took some time away from his NCAA record-setting freshman-scoring pace, to lead Team Canada to a Gold Medal, and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Eichel Can Lead
Eichel’s expectataions are nothing short of “through-the-roof”. He is one of the biggest American prospects since Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel, his play to date has led us to believe he’s capable of putting up huge numbers in the WJC. And now he has been tagged as the leader of the team.
It almost seems like how can he live up to where we’ve built him up? But, I have a feeling he will surpass our expectations yet again. He is the best College Hockey has had to offer in a number of years. He has all the keys to be one of the best players in the NHL one day, playing a dominant Ryan Getzlaf-like style. And now you can add “Leader” to his already substantial resume. Captain Jack will look to lead arguably one of the best rosters in the tournament to another Gold Medal. And with Eichel at the helm, and potentially another 17 of the NCAA’s best junior-aged players on the squad as well, I am as eager to watch the New Years Eve showdown against Canada, as I have been in years.
By The Way
If you’re looking to watch someone this WJC who may be the next Eichel, keep your eye on potential 2016 first overall pick, Auston Matthews of Team USA. The Scottsdale, AZ native and U18 NTDP superstar forward is coming in hot this 2015 WJC. Matthews has hands of silk, and a speed-burst that can make you look like your skating in cement. He has produced 11 points in the U18 Team’s seven games this year against top DI teams. Matthews is deciding between the CHL, Boston University, Boston College, University of Denver, and Michigan. Recent speculation has hinted that he is leaning towards College Hockey, and if that’s the case… We are ready for him. I look for Matthews to introduce himself to the average hockey fan over the next week and a half, and in a big way.
Bill is a 2012 Graduate of Franklin Pierce University, where he played D3 NCAA Ice-Hockey. He covers Atlantic Hockey and D3 for the USCHO. He covers College hockey for THW.