As Jack Eichel's roommate, Sam Reinhart had a front-row seat during the center's recovery from a high-ankle sprain last year. Reinhart saw how much Eichel struggled to move during the early stages of the injury.
It's Reinhart's memory of those days that gives him confidence the Sabres' franchise player will be back this season.
Eichel suffered another high-ankle sprain Saturday in Boston, and he's out indefinitely.
"I saw him kind of work day-by-day last year," Reinhart said Sunday. "I will say that to see him kind of moving around last night, it seemed like a long time before he was able to do that last year. In my mind that's optimism, and I know it's in his mind as well."
Eichel missed seven weeks with a left ankle sprain last year. The Sabres are hoping the sprain to the right ankle will be more in the four-to-six range this time, but it's an area of the body that's susceptible to setbacks.
"It's an injury where you don't want to force it," Reinhart said in KeyBank Center. "He knows that. He's fully aware of that, so I think he's going to have a better sense this year of what he needs to do to get himself back and ready to play."
Eichel will miss his first game Sunday night when Buffalo hosts Colorado.
"Watching me come to the rink, all he wants to do is be here right now preparing for a hockey game," Reinhart said. "With that being said, his spirits are good. He's going to try and get back as soon as he can because I can only imagine how tough it is for him not coming here and getting ready for another game."
Story topics: Jack Eichel