The Buffalo Sabres will be without captain Jack Eichel for the remainder of the season, the team announced Wednesday.
The 24-year-old has a herniated disc in his neck.
Buffalo says their forward will be healthy and ready to roll come the start of the 2021-2022 NHL season.
Eichel has been out of the lineup since March 7 against the New York Islanders and, like most of his teammates, has had a difficult season. He notched just two goals and 16 assists in 21 games.
The Sabres’ struggles have been well-documented in 2020-2021 and a reconfiguration is surely in the works, as they look ahead to matching the NHL record playoff drought of 10 seasons.
“Very, very difficult,” Sabres coach Don Granato said of Eichel on Wednesday. “Knowing as a person, his commitment, his character, and he’s playing through it…You just hope for him to feel better every day and improve every day, and that’s in essence what you think of and how you think about it.”
In 2019-2020, Eichel put up a career-high 36 goals and added 42 assists in just 68 games for his second-highest point totals.
Following yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Sabres hold a record of 10-25-7. They lost a blistering 18 straight games from February 23 to March 29 this season, the final 11 of which were without Eichel in the lineup.
Despite being out of action so long, Eichel is still fourth on the Sabres in scoring. Sam Reinhart leads the way with 26 points in 42 games, while Victor Olofson, Rasmus Dahlin, and Rasmus Ristolainen round out the top five.
Eichel was drafted by the Sabres with the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He’s often been a rare bright spot for Buffalo, but this season dealt him a hand that even he couldn’t make work.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” Reinhart said. “I mean, it’s always tough missing time. You know, no one wants to go through a stretch like this, watching games, so you just hope he recovers and comes back better.”
Pic: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire