After sitting out for the first 21 games of the 2016-17 season, Jack Eichel made an impactful return to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday by pitching in a goal and an assist that helped lift his squad to a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
"I was really excited and had a lot of energy waiting for the game to start," Eichel told USA Today. "I think it helps a little bit when you're able to get a couple points on the power play at the beginning of the game. It kind of settles you down."
The 20-year-old center was poised to enjoy a standout season with the Sabres until he suffered a severe high-ankle sprain in practice on October 12.
Last season, Eichel led the Sabres with 24 goals, and his absence so far this season has been the opposite of a boon for the floundering Buffalo squad (8-9-5). The Sabres are not only last in the NHL with an average of 1.95 goals per game, but also in last place in the Atlantic Division.
Eichel was drafted second overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Sabres after becoming the second freshman to ever win the prestigious Hobey Baker Award for leading the NCAA in scoring with 26 goals, 45 assists, and 71 points for Boston University.
"He's a pretty dynamic player," his teammate, Evander Kane, told NHL News. "It's nice to have my centerman back."