Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has struggled to get up to speed following the upper-body injury he sustained prior to training camp, coach Ralph Krueger said Thursday.
Eichel has just two goals in 16 games this season, although his 14 points have him tied with fellow forward Victor Olofsson for the team lead.
"Everybody has to realize that he had an injury pre-training camp that pretty well parked him from doing a lot of physical activities for multiple weeks," Krueger said on WGR 550 in Buffalo. "He started training camp a week delayed. The game pace that we've had and the forced almost eight-day break (for NHL COVID-19 protocol) that everyone had a few weeks ago, he has worked as hard as anybody else to get himself up to speed. But all the circumstances are preventing him from being at 100 percent physical condition and shape because we just have no practices and we have no training time between the games."
Eichel, 24, recorded a career-high 36 goals to go along with team-best totals in assists (42) and points (78) in 68 games last season. He also pieced together a 17-game point streak during the campaign.
Eichel is in the midst of the third season of an eight-year, $80 million contract signed prior to the 2018-19 campaign.
Eichel has collected 351 points (139 goals, 212 assists) in 370 career games since being selected by the Sabres with the second overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.
He was the 2015 Hobey Baker Award recipient as the top hockey player in the NCAA while at Boston University.
--Field Level Media