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Sabres captain Jack Eichel on first day of practice: 'Today was a good test for me'

Sabres captain Jack Eichel on first day of practice: 'Today was a good test for me'

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Sabres practice

Jack Eichel, right, talks to new teammate Taylor Hall (4) on the bench during practice Wednesday in KeyBank Center.

After missing the first four days of training camp with an upper-body injury that he revealed was suffered on the ice a few weeks ago, Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel was a full participant at practice Wednesday in KeyBank Center.

The Sabres' No. 1 center is behind the rest of his teammates but said it was a relief to be part of the group again after watching the team's first three days on the ice and Monday's initial scrimmage of camp.

"Today was a good test for me to go out there and be on the ice with a lot more bodies than I'm used to," Eichel said. "So I'm all right right now. ... It's been a while since I've been on the ice with that many guys. So I was a couple of steps behind today but hopefully it starts coming back and I start to feel like myself again."

Coming off a 36-goal, 78-point season, Eichel opens his sixth NHL campaign with a new left winger in free agent signee and former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall. The pair skated with Victor Olofsson.

"You just try and build a relationship with him to get to know his tendencies," Eichel said of Hall. "Obviously, it's the first time on the ice together. So let's try and build some chemistry as quick as possible. We know we're going to play in a week. So just trying to communicate as much as we can. It's good to be out there. It's good to be working on a line, and getting back to somewhat normal hockey."

Eichel said he was thrilled by Team USA's 2-0 victory over Canada Tuesday night in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships but added that he was also impressed by the starring role Sabres draft pick Dylan Cozens had for the Canadians.

Cozens has already made the trip from Edmonton to Buffalo to start what the team calls a "minimal quarantine" before he can come into the lineup.

"He had a really good tournament,  so he's probably going to have a little bit of an advantage on a lot of us coming in and having played however many games that he's played," Eichel said of Cozens, who had eight goals and 16 points in seven games. "It's good that he got that experience and  it's nice to see him have such a great showing and hopefully he can come in here and make an impact as well."

Like Eichel, Olofsson (wrist) also returned to practice Wednesday. So did goalie Linus Ullmark, who had been tied up in immigration/quarantine issues since returning from Sweden.

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