Sabres' Jack Eichel out for 'Forseeable Future' with Upper Body Injury

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2021

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) passes the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger announced Saturday center Jack Eichel will be out of the lineup for the "foreseeable future" with an upper-body injury.

Former NHL defenseman Aaron Ward reported Eichel is expected to miss around eight weeks with a neck injury, which means he could be sidelined for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

Eichel, the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, enjoyed a strong rookie season for the Sabres. The former Boston University standout tallied 24 goals and 32 assists across 81 games. His second season got off to a delayed start because of a high-ankle sprain, however.

The 24-year-old Massachusetts native missed the first quarter of the 2016-17 campaign with the ailment, which he suffered in the final practice before the season. He returned to play the final 61 contests. It represented a rare health setback after missing just one game each as a rookie and during his year at BU.

Eichel suffered another high-ankle sprain during the 2017-18 season. He ended up making 67 appearances before bouncing back to play 145 appearances over the past two years.

In all, he's tallied 355 points in 375 career games despite the injury absences.

The Sabres will need to juggle the lineup to fill the void. Rookie Dylan Cozens is the best option to take over alongside Taylor Hall and Sam Reinhart on the top line, but Krueger's head-scratching lineup decisions make it tough to project how the lines will look in the coming weeks.

Buffalo's offense has ranked near the bottom of the league in recent years, and its struggles are compounded when Eichel is sidelined. That said, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team play it safe with its young star with an eye toward the future since it's not prepared to contend yet.