“Cross our fingers everything continues to go well,” Nolan said following an 80-minute practice inside the First Niagara Center. “No timeframe on his return whatsoever. Our No. 1 concern is making sure he’s OK.”
With McCormick sidelined, the Sabres recalled centers Zac Dalpe and Phil Varone from Rochester early Monday.
Nolan said since winger Chris Stewart is still home sick, the Sabres could summon another player before tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
“That flu bug gets you, it gets you pretty good,” Nolan said.
Update: The Sabres have recalled forward Matt Ellis. The 33-year-old has seven goals and 13 points in 36 AHL games.
The Sabres returned Varone and center Mikhail Grigorenko to the AHL on Saturday. Why did they recall Dalpe, a 25-year-old veteran of 96 NHL games?
“He’s an older guy that has more maturity,” Nolan said. “I think we saw Grigorenko, the potential of him getting up here. There’s some parts of his game he needs to work on.”
Dalpe, who has seven goals and 13 points in 31 AHL games, spent all of last season in Vancouver. Monday brought some nervous excitement.
“I’ve played almost 100 games, but I was kind of nervous for practice,” Dalpe said. “But at the same time, once you get on the ice you’re good to go.”
Meanwhile, Nolan said center Torrey Mitchell (foot, 12 games) will return tonight. The Sabres, losers of seven straight games, went 1-10-1 without the speedy 29-year-old.
Captain Brian Gionta (upper body, nine games) has practiced the last two days. Nolan said the sessions have “drastically improved” with the 35-year-old winger back.
Gionta, who was hit high by Boston’s Matt Bartkowski on Dec. 21, said Sunday he won’t be back this week. Nolan wants him at 100 percent.
“If there’s 99.9 percent, he’s not (playing),” he said.
Nolan wouldn’t say if defenseman Nikita Zadorov will return tonight after getting scratched last game. The 19-year-old has morphed from one of the Sabres’ steadiest players into arguably one of their worst.
Since scoring the overtime winner against Florida on Dec. 13, the Russian has a minus-15 rating in 12 games.
Zadorov has lost some of the habits that helped him earn a regular spot in November.
“When he was trying to get in before, his attention to detail, his work ethic in practice was really, really good,” Nolan said. “The last little while it’s been slipping. With young players, we’re all creatures of habit. Those bad habits creep into your game, you’re not going to play so well, especially with a young player, we have to make sure we straighten that up with him and he practices hard.”
Nolan said Zadorov has been “a little bit better.”
“Better is not good enough right now,” he said.
Nolan planned to talk to Zadorov on Monday. Assistant coaches recently dealt with him, he said.
Nolan has put the top line of center Zemgus Girgensons, Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson back together.