Eichel may not have a significant sprain, and goalies have a harder time recovering than forwards because of the nature of the position. But no matter how long Eichel is out, the Sabres’ lineup takes the biggest hit imaginable.
Here were the potential forward groups with everyone healthy (including Kyle Okposo, who will miss Thursday’s opener against Montreal in KeyBank Center):
Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Tyler Ennis-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Marcus Foligno-Johan Larsson-Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers-Derek Grant/Zemgus Girgensons-Matt Moulson/Hudson Fasching
For the opener, it might look like this:
That’s a big difference. Making things worse, O'Reilly can't take faceoffs while recovering from injury.
This is not how the Sabres thought they'd start the season.