Despite some rabid fanbases such as the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Bruins, Red Wings and Blackhawks, the NHL is suffering badly in America. One of the reasons is the lack of a true American superstar. Luckily, Boston University’s Jack Eichel is primed to lead the American hockey movement.
Eichel isn’t just your typical hockey prospect. This is one of the most-talked about American-born players in NHL history. Already a star at the junior ranks, Eichel has been lighting the collegiate world on fire. Judging by his impressive play, this phenom is ready for the NHL.
Over the span of 25 games, Eichel has tallied 43 points for the Terriers. As a result of his play, Boston University is ranked in the top three of the NCAA Division One polls, making the team one of the favorites to reach the Frozen Four.
No matter the outcome of the Terriers season, Eichel will be selected by an NHL team during the 2015 NHL Draft. At that point he can elect to continue his collegiate hockey career and let his skills mature even further, or go straight to the NHL and have some on-the-job training.
With American clubs like the Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes destined for top picks in the NHL Draft, the lure of a true American superstar to represent your team is too much to pass up. Eichel has a chance to make any team that drafts him much more marketable.
Of course, there is a downside to Eichel being such a hot commodity. If a Canadian team winds up with Eichel then there could be a situation like the one in Calgary, where top American player, Johhny Gaudreau, is playing for a team north of the border–and outside of the much-larger American media market. Because of this, promotion and advertising for Gaudreau in America is extremely problematic.
With the ratings of the men’s Olympic hockey team being so high, the chance to capitalize on a young American star is now.
There was hope with T.J. Oshie after his dramatic shootout goal, but Oshie is far from NHL elite, and he can’t possibly be marketed to the casual fan. That’s something Eichel can bring to the table, as his play will be noticed by the average hockey fan.
While the future is unknown for Eichel, one thing is clear, he is America’s best hope at a superstar for the sport of Hockey. While getting a player like Conor McDavid (The likely top overall pick in the 2015 draft.) on a team like Carolina is nice, he isn’t an American-born star playing for an American-based team, which is what the NHL needs.