TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie dropped a major bombshell on Twitter on Friday afternoon when he tweeted the following about NTDP U18 star forward, and Boston University commit Jack Eichel:
There are whispers elite 2015 prospect Jack Eichel may consider not going to BU if he could play head-to-head in OHL vs. Connor McDavid.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 7, 2014
Connor McDavid is a star forward for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, and expected to be selected first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, with Eichel projected just behind him. Outscoring McDavid in the same league may be the best, if not only, chance Eichel has to surpass McDavid for the first overall pick.
Of course, getting Eichel to the OHL is far easier said than done. Eichel is a native of Massachusetts, which is part of the Quebec Major Junior League's territory. Eichel's CHL rights are held by the Saint John Sea Dogs, and player rights can't be traded between CHL leagues. The only way Eichel could end up in the OHL is if Saint John released him and every other team in the QMJHL let him clear waivers.
This wouldn't be the first time an NCAA player was mired in a controversy between CHL territorial rights. Quinnipiac forward Matthew Peca was involved in a similar controversy when his rights were owned by an OHL team, though he said he would only play for Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts team in the QMJHL. Peca's transfer was blocked when a mystery team put in a claim on Peca, leaving the always outspoken Roy complaining about the lack of transparency in David Branch's CHL.
So it would be very difficult to get Eichel to the OHL, but at the same time, it would be a major coup for the CHL to steal Eichel away from the NCAA at the last minute like that, helping to solidfy the image they like to project as the place for high first round NHL draft picks to play. It's a bit of a different situation in that CHL president David Branch would be helping the OHL, the league which he also serves as commissioner of, in finagling Eichel into Ontario next year.
Despite today's rumors--and the implicit understanding that Bob McKenzie doesn't throw things like that out lightly--SBN College Hockey's Evan Sporer reports that sources at BU still seem pretty confident in Eichel making it to Boston University:
Had a conversation with a BU source a few weeks ago about Eichel. Unless something has changed since then, I think he'll be on Comm Ave.— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) March 7, 2014
Not saying McKenzie is wrong, but from what I was being told a few weeks ago, would have a hard time not seeing Eichel at BU.— Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) March 7, 2014