The Buffalo Sabres appear to be close to getting one of their top scoring threats back in the lineup.
Rookie winger Victor Olofsson, sidelined since Jan. 2 with what's believed to be a high ankle sprain, returned to practice Saturday afternoon in KeyBank Center. Olofsson, who has 16 goals and 35 points in 42 games, has missed the last 13 games due to the injury.
Olofsson, who was leading NHL rookies in goals at the time of his injury, is now second as Chicago's Dominik Kubalik has surged to the lead with 21.
"Physically we still see we need to be patient on this one," said coach Ralph Krueger, who said Olofsson would likely still be out for a week or more. "The few practices we're going to find in these six games in 10 days, every practice will be valuable for him."
The Sabres have four home games in the next week, starting Sunday at 3 against Anaheim. Olofsson did not take line rushes in practice and it's unlikely he would have played in that game anyway after one short practice.
Krueger said Olofsson's return to practice was a first step and essentially ruled him out for this week's rematches against Detroit on Tuesday and Columbus on Thursday.
The Sabres also host Toronto on Feb. 16, then play Feb. 18 in Ottawa and Feb. 22 in Pittsburgh.
"It’s hard to say," Olofsson said when asked if he can pinpoint a return date. "I think we’ll take it kind of step by step. This was kind of the first step, to just get out on the ice with the other guys. I’m going to continue working very hard here, especially on game days putting in some extra work. We’ll see how fast I can get back."