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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel made it official Wednesday with the team signing the first-round draft pick to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Selected second overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel (6’2”, 196 lbs., 10/28/1996) joins the organization after a standout season at Boston University (NCAA-Hockey East) in which he became the second freshman – after Paul Kariya in 1993 – ever to earn the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s top player.

A native of North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Eichel led all NCAA players with 71 points (26+45) in 40 games in 2014-15. In the postseason, he led the Terriers to a conference championship, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the Hockey East Tournament before adding five points (2+3) in four NCAA Tournament games.

In addition to the Hobey Baker, Eichel racked up several other major postseason awards in 2014-15, including NCAA Rookie of the Year, first-team All-American, Hockey East Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, and was a unanimous selection as a first-team Hockey East All-Star.

Eichel also bolstered his international experience in 2014-15. After representing the United States as the youngest player on the roster at the 2014 World Junior Championship last season, Eichel captained the United States in his return to the tournament in 2015. In May, he joined Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, becoming the first draft-eligible player to play for the United States in the tournament since Phil Housley did so in 1982. Eichel recorded seven points (2+5) in 10 World Championship games to help Team USA to a bronze medal.

The Sabres also signed one-year deals with forward Jason Akeson and defenseman Matt Donovan.

Akeson (5’10”, 190 lbs., 7/3/1990) appeared in 15 games for the Philadelphia Flyers during the past three seasons, tallying a goal and an assist and a plus-2 rating. The Ottawa, Ontario native also played for the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) for four seasons, three of which were under the tutelage of current Sabres assistant coach Terry Murray. In 265 games for the Phantoms, Akeson tallied 225 points (81+144) and 120 penalty minutes.

Before his professional career, Akeson scored 254 points (68+186) in 201 games for the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) from 2007-08 to 2010-11. He was named the OHL’s Overage Player of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Player in 2011 after he led the league in points (108) and assists (84) during the 2010-11 season.

Donovan (6’1”, 205 lbs., 5/9/1990) completed his first full season on an NHL roster in 2014-15, appearing in 12 games with the New York Islanders. The Edmond, Oklahoma native was selected by the Islanders in the fourth round (96th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft and has appeared in 67 NHL games in parts of three seasons, totaling 19 points (2+17) and 26 penalty minutes.

In addition to his NHL experience, Donovan has appeared in 180 games and recorded 119 points (32+87) and a plus-37 rating in four AHL seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He also represented the United States at the 2014 World Championship and won gold with Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship.

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