There’s no doubt star center Jack Eichel changed many minds after his stellar postseason performance. Golden Knights fans had heard the questions about Eichel’s playoff uncertainty and it’s likely he heard them as well. It’s possible the hesitation from pundits acted as motivation for VGK’s top line center. Or simply, he naturally figured out how to play in elevated situations.
Once again, in what I saw in the playoffs, not everyone can figure out, and certainly can’t figure it out in Year One in the playoffs. Jack did that. Congrats on the Stanley Cup. –Mike Rupp, Former NHL’er & Analyst on NHL.com
This week NHL.com are presenting their list of Top 50 players. Eichel was named the 20th best in the league. There’s an argument that Vegas’ Cup-winning center could be ranked higher but most pundits want to see his postseason impact carry over to 2023-24.
Most Golden Knights fans were confident that Eichel would live up to his mega-contract in the playoffs and he exceeded everyone’s expectations. The eight-year veteran’s postseason journey opened the eyes of dozens of doubters. Now they are anticipating a continuation into his 9th NHL season.
There were questions about Eichel’s level of play for a full season after having artificial disk replacement surgery in his neck Nov. 12, 2021, but he quieted the doubters. He led the Golden Knights with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in 67 regular-season games, and had 14 power-play points, and a plus-26 rating. He averaged 18:46 of ice time per game, third among Vegas forwards. Playing for the first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 26-year-old led the NHL with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 22 postseason games to help the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup. Eichel has 446 points (180 goals, 266 assists) in 476 games in his eight NHL seasons. –NHL.com
Perhaps Eichel surprised himself in Vegas’ Cup run. He heard the noise for years yet seemed to quickly pick up the intensity. After all, it’s just hockey. Overall, NHL.com judges players by their dynamics and points share. Eichel has both but not enough to crack the Top 10.
This guy is a gamer and I think he’s going to have a big year. I think he’s an elite player in this League. –Rupp, Former on NHL.com
It’s possible that under Bruce Cassidy, Eichel or any other Golden Knight will not score enough to compete for the Maurice Richard award. Stanley Cup winners aren’t always the highest-scoring regular season teams. Champions commit to two-way play which Eichel excelled at in May and June.
Most likely the Stanley Cup-winning center cares very little about his overall league rank. He’s too busy anticipating the shine from his championship ring.