Here's my theory. Which is mine. Which is to say, I came up with it. Kind of. Except for the parts I got elsewhere.
Anyway, to wit: Jack got his 8 x $10M because they wanted to lock him up early to be fair to him. The management knew that a rough year was coming. They want to develop Jack, and Sam, and Risto, and Girgs, and anyone else who didn't get the full development treatment on the farm. As such, a down year (especially for those guys) was kind of inevitable.
I think part of this involves the players learning how to pace themselves during the game so they have energy at the end, but also have an acceptably high level earlier in the game. The first ten minutes last night they had a lot of jump, but they then they slowed down. But then at the end they picked it up again. They need to learn how to manage that when they're playing against NHL level competition.
I'm starting to look at this year as an extended, remedial NHL training camp for the Sabres. It's not simply Housley instilling his system on the team, it's about getting some of the improperly developed players back to where they should be in terms of development. This involves players, especially Jack and Sam, playing different roles on the team, learning how to pace themselves, learning how to play responsible defense, learning how to make the players around them better.
They excelled at that at the lower levels but instead of transitioning into the NHL as maybe 3rd line guys on a functional team, they were thrust into top line positions on a crappy team and asked to be their usually exceptional selves. Exceptional at the junior, college, or AHL level does not instantly translate to NHL greatness. Bylsma tried to ride them as the studs we pictured them to be, but didn't spend enough time developing their weak areas.
Enter JBot, who develops teams from the AHL up, and who instructs Housely to correct those deficiencies in the young stars already on the team. They tell Eichel what he's in for, tell him he's probably in for an off year, and offer him a fair deal to lock him up, expecting that off year. "It's all good, Jack. You don't have to prove to us you're worth it, here you go, here's your contract. But we're still a year or two off from being competitive, so your job this year isn't to score goals and win games, it's to learn how to play in the NHL the right way."
So he passes because he's been told to pass. He does a lot of other things that make him look like he's lollygagging, but it's in the interest of learning, of training, of playing the game the way he will need to play it when the Sabres are competitive again. He's the cornerstone, he's not going anywhere. He's very good right now, but to lead this team to the promised land, he's gonna have to be great, and he's going to need the help of the rest of the team, a handful of whom are also on a remedial de-Bylsmafication development plan.
JACK EICHEL WILL BE FINE.
SAMSON REINHART WILL BE FINE.
ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS WILL BE FINE.
RASMUS RISTOLAINEN WILL BE FINE.
THE BUFFALO SABRES WILL BE GREAT.
Edited by Doohickie, 21 November 2017 - 01:46 PM.