When Jack Eichel dons the Buffalo jersey Friday night at the NHL draft in Fort Lauderdale all of the hopes of Sabres nation will be on his shoulders. The pressure was hardly the same for the Sabres very first number one pick, Gilbert Perreault.

When the Sabres won the spin of the roulette wheel in 1970 to gain the rights to Perreault it gave Buffalo the most iconic player in team history. Gilbert played for 17 seasons for Buffalo, scored over 500 goals and in 1990 was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, huge shoes to fill.

Perreault also became the lynch pin in the famous French Connection line along with Rick Martin and Rene Robert. To stop the Sabres in the 1970’s meant stopping Gilbert Perreault.

There are no similarities between Eichel and Perreault other than the designation of being the team’s number one pick.

Eichel is strong on the puck and has great hands around the net. Eichel is also known as a leader and mature beyond his 18 years.

Perreault was as good a puck handler as there has ever been in the NHL and his end to end rushes on the ice are legendary. Opposing players would say fear filled their hearts when they saw Perreault wide up behind his own net and come down the center of the ice in a blur. The game however, was much more wide open when Gilbert played and certainly conducive to his syle of play.

The Sabres were a brand new expansion team when they won the spin of the wheel for Perreault. Buffalo was just happy to have an NHL team and Perreault the first of many new faces on the morning sports page. The fact that he instantly made the Sabres exciting and competitive was a plus.

Chances are that fifteen years from now Jack Eichel’s career may be looked a in the same light as Perreault’s. If he can help his team win a Stanley Cup then he will hold a unique place of his own in the hearts and minds of Sabres fans.

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