Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel should return this season

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: Jack Eichel
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: Jack Eichel /

The Buffalo Sabres will be missing the likes of Jack Eichel for a significant period and there is a lot of doubt as to whether he can return this season.

The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been all that awful lately. They strung together a three-game winning streak not too long ago, and found a way to knock off the dominate Tampa Bay Lightning in their last outing.

What’s even more impressive is that they have been doing it without their franchise center. Eichel sustained a high-ankle injury against the Boston Bruins. Nobody knows how long Eich could remain out for, but the hope is that it’s not the 6-8 week time frame in the early part of the 2016 season.

It shouldn’t have to be said at this point how vital Eichel has been to the team this season. The 21-year-old has 53 points in 53 games while notching two goals and the same amount of assists in his last five games.

His absence now leaves it up to the depth of the Sabres to make up for what could be a portion of time. Depth scoring has been an issue all season long, and it might be a bigger concern after the trade deadline if Evander Kane and Benoit Pouliot are out.

Recently, WKBW Buffalo put out an interesting piece as to whether or not the star should come back this season. Kevin Hoffman’s big point revolved around the fact that Eichel might re-injure if he comes back too soon.

"Sure, fans pay good money and want to see the Sabres best players — Eichel clearly falls in that category. However, if the risk outweighs the reward and his ankle becomes a lingering issue because he played five games to end the season than the organization and fans will be livid, and rightfully so."

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The most obvious point was stated as Phil Housley talked about a time period around the four-to-six week frame for Eichel. If he were to come back, he would only have around four-to-five games to work with.

Plus, Eichel’s shadow in the lineup might enable some more of the depth players to account for the scoring. After all, the American accounts for a good portion of the team’s goals and assists.
On the other hand, however, Eichel’s return to the lineup could set the stage for whatever happens next season. Five games could be that many wins with Jack in the team, which would go a long way into building momentum for the next campaign.

With the season all but over, it’s time for supporters of Buffalo to start thinking of what’s ahead. What better time to do that if you could make an impact right now? Fans have seen it for the past few years that Eichel is more than capable of doing that.

There’s no rush for Eichel to come back. Four or six weeks is justified, and he’ll likely have to serve that time. Yet, if there’s still contests left in the schedule, you can bet that Eichel will be more than willing to play.

Fans might be looking at their future captain here. A lot can be done in a short amount of time, and Eichel can benefit both him and the Buffalo Sabres if he plays again this season.

Next: Jack Eichel out indefinitely with high ankle sprain

Do you think Eichel should return to the team this season? Let us know in the comments section below.