The Buffalo Sabres are at the bottom of the NHL standings, have lost nine straight games in a row, and now face an uncertain future without team captain Jack Eichel, who after getting a second opinion on an unspecified upper-body injury is out indefinitely.
“I would say he’s out for the foreseeable future and because of the nature of the injury, we can’t put a fixed date on that and we’re expecting it to go on a little longer.” Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said during Saturday morning’s media availability.
Eichel, who has 18 points (2 goals, 16 assists) in 21 games, has battled injuries since the start of training camp and missed time with a lower-body injury last month, but suffered an upper-body injury last weekend against the New York Islanders after battling along the boards with forward Casey Cizikas.
With Eichel out, Krueger shifted 2019 first-rounder Dylan Cozens into his spot on the top line between Taylor Hall and Sam Reinhart, but the 20-year-old is also out injured after getting hit along the boards by Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese in the Sabres 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday. The 2019 top pick is listed as day-to-day and will miss Saturday’s rematch with the Pens at Key Bank Center.
The Sabres have not reached the halfway mark of the season after being shut down for two weeks due to a massive COVID-19 outbreak, and after some miscommunication with the media regarding Eichel’s injury status earlier in the year, Krueger was careful not to give any specifics on the extent of the team captain’s injury and when he will return.
Per Coach Krueger, Dylan Cozens is day-to-day and Jack Eichel is out for the foreseeable future. pic.twitter.com/GXgzM9vxvk— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 13, 2021
“An injury of this nature needs more assessment and more time to understand it, we do not know for certain the time frame on it.” Krueger said. “We just know that it will be some time here from shorter all the way to what you’ve already mentioned, but it’s somewhere in between that.”