BUFFALO – At some point in the next day or so, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma will grab center Jack Eichel for a moment and tell the rookie he has made the opening-night roster.
Not exactly surprising news, right?
“It won’t be a 15-minute meeting,” Bylsma joked this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center.
But until Eichel, 18, officially hears the news from Bylsma, he’s operating like he must earn his spot. He still sported No. 41 today, a camp number he was given by the equipment staff.
When will the second overall pick switch to the No. 15 he chose in July?
“Thursday night maybe?” Eichel said. “I don’t know.”
Eichel, of course, will play opening night Thursday against the Ottawa Senators. Still, he won’t even feel much comfort from that experience.
“I’ve made the team to play the first game, yeah,” he said. “I think every game is still another point for me to prove myself and prove that I deserve to be on this team.”
While rosters are due at 5 p.m., Bylsma said players on the ice today – 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies – will comprise the opening-night roster.
That means center-winger Sam Reinhart, 19, has made the team, at least for now. The Sabres still have a few injured players, including defenseman Zach Bogosian, who’s progressing with his lower-body injury, so changes could be made soon.
Bylsma said impressive rookie defenseman Brendan Guhle, who suffered an upper-body injury when Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf throttled him last week, skated before his teammates Tuesday and is “getting close.” He said the Sabres won’t think about keeping Guhle, the 51st pick in June, until he recovers.
In other news, Bylsma said he still hasn’t chosen alternate captains. Defenseman Josh Gorges and winger Matt Moulson served last season. Winger Brian Gionta will remain captain.