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Sabres options If Eichel injury is long-term

Sabres options If Eichel injury is long-term
Posted at 1:58 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 13:58:36-04

Before we go any further let’s make one thing very clear: The injury or the extent of Jack Eichel’s injury hasn’t been announced.

We do know Eichel suffered an ankle injury, and it was of the non-contact variety. That certainly doesn’t sound good – but anything more than that would be speculation at this point.

If he is out for an extended period of time this is what I’m thinking:

You can’t replace Jack Eichel – but why not give Derek Grant a shot to start the season with Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart? The Buffalo Sabres and head coach Dan Bylsma could approach a potential long-term injury several different ways – but Derek Grant makes sense to me.

He’s been on a tear during the preseason and is coming off a season in the AHL where he scored 45 points in 36 games. It does bother me that Grant has failed to produce when he has played in the NHL—but players getting called up are rarely put into good situations to succeed right away.

I understand that moving Reinhart to center makes sense – but flip-flopping his position several times during the same season is a lot to ask, even for a player like Reinhart. Give this a shot for a few games and see if it works. If Grant doesn’t produce try something else.

Potential Lines Without Eichel
1) Ennis-O’Reilly-Okposo
2) Kane-Grant/Girgensons-Reinhart
3) Moulson-Girgensons/Grant-Fasching
4) Foligno-Larsson-Gionta

Another option would be sliding up Zemgus Girgensons to the second line and putting Grant on the third or fourth line. In 2014, Girgensons was an NHL all-star but is coming off an unimpressive 2015. He’s still young and has plenty of time to develop – but some time with players like Reinhart and Kane could do Girgensons some good.

No one will be able to replace Jack Eichel – but these are just a few options. In the meantime, everyone will need to step up.

After practice that’s what the players said—but that’s also what we hear every time someone gets hurt. Kyle Okposo needs to play like a player who is making $6 million a year. Tyler Ennis will need to play like the guy who dazzled at times in 2014. O’Reilly will need to be the Sabres best player.

Of course I think this injury, if long-term, is a massive blow – but I don’t think this will lead to a season like 2014. The Sabres still have plenty of young talent – they just need everything out of that young talent until their most explosive player returns to the ice.