It sounds like the Buffalo Sabres will be without Jack Eichel for a while. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the 19-year-old center is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks with a suspected high-ankle sprain.
Eichel was hurt this morning at Sabres practice. His injury is a tough blow for a team that was hoping to emerge out of its rebuild this season, and possibly make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Without Eichel, the Sabres are left with just one legitimate top-six center in Ryan O'Reilly. In tomorrow’s season-opener against Montreal, the Buffalo News thinks O’Reilly could be on the first line between Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart, with Derek Grant, who’s spent most of his pro career in the AHL, stepping up to center Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson on the second line.
Another option would be moving Reinhart to center, but Reinhart had good success on the wing last season so head coach Dan Bylsma may be loath to do that.
In addition to losing Eichel, the Sabres will also be without their big free-agent signing, winger Kyle Okposo, against the Habs. Okposo has a bruised knee. No word when he’ll be ready to go.
The Sabres have confirmed the high-ankle sprain diagnosis. They didn’t provide a timeline for his return, but high-ankle sprains are notoriously tough to come back from, so it may take a couple of months before he’s 100 percent again.