BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - For the first time since suffering an ankle injury on February 10th against the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres assistant captain Jack Eichel returned to practice on Tuesday.
"It's good to be back with the team, the toughest thing about being injured is not being on the ice with them every day and not spending that quality time that you enjoy so much," Eichel said after Tuesday's skate. "You know, you really enjoy being back out there and practicing and getting the battles in. That's the stuff you miss when you're injured."
Eichel admitted he was a bit tired after the more than an hour-long practice but overall said he was happy with where his conditioning is at. During the skate, Eichel centered a line with Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville. Despite it being his first practice back, Eichel was a full participant and also got plenty of work with the Sabres first power play unit.
"It doesn't come back overnight, it's a bit of a process but I'm pretty happy with where I am right now and how I feel wind-wise," Eichel added. "I think the conditioning level comes back pretty quick but I don't think I lost too much, so I felt pretty good today."
When asked about a potential return to the lineup on Thursday both Eichel and Sabres head coach Phil Housley said they didn't feel comfortable throwing out a date.
I have only been at #Sabres practice for 20 minutes but I can say that Eichel is participating in every drill and looks like he never left. Maybe he’ll return to the lineup is sooner rather than later @WKBW— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) March 13, 2018
Along with Eichel, Evan Rodrigues practiced for the first time since he suffered an upper-body injury earlier this month. The team also recalled Linus Ullmark from Rochester, who is expected to get a few starts during his stint with the Sabres.