BUFFALO – With a team-high 17 goals and 39 points through 43 games, center Jack Eichel is on pace for the Sabres’ first 30-goal, 70-point season since winger Jason Pominville in 2011-12.
Eichel, 21, has often dazzled throughout his three-year career, showcasing slick talents few players possess. In the last few weeks, Eichel has shaken off a so-so start and played perhaps his best NHL hockey.
Since recording his first hat trick Dec. 15, Eichel has scored nine times in 11 games, tying him with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron for the most goals in that span. Eichel’s 15 points are tied for fourth.
On Wednesday, Eichel was rewarded for his strong season, earning his first spot in the NHL All-Star Game. Eichel, one of six forwards on the Atlantic Division’s team, will be the Sabres’ lone representative at the festivities Jan. 27 and 28 in Tampa.
Barely halfway through the season, Eichel has surpassed some of his career-best totals. He scored two even-strength goals in Tuesday’s 7-4 loss to Winnipeg, giving him 16, one more than he had in 61 games last season. His 24 primary points – that’s goals and primary assists during five-on-five play – have already tied the mark he set as a rookie in 38 fewer games.
Eichel, the second overall pick in 2015, has 65 goals and 152 points in 182 career NHL appearances.
Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian left Wednesday’s practice with an apparent left leg injury after getting tangled with winger Evander Kane along the boards inside KeyBank Center. Bogosian couldn’t put any pressure on his left foot as he was helped off the ice.
Coach Phil Housley, whose Sabres host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, said he would know more about Bogosian later Wednesday or today.
The Sabres announced Wednesday they plan to wear the popular throwback-style jersey they sported in the Winter Classic three more times – Feb. 8 and 19 and April 4 – this season.
Notes: Goalie Linus Ullmark is still with the Sabres as insurance for starter Robin Lehner, who was hit in the neck Sunday. “Just precautionary for Robin in case he gets one off the shoulder in practice, we need to make sure we have a couple goaltenders out there,” Housley said. … Housley said center Jacob Josefson, who left Tuesday’s game after blocking a shot, is day-to-day with lower-body injury. Housley said defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Marco Scandella had maintenance days Wednesday.