The reeling, last-place Buffalo Sabres will be without Ryan O’Reilly indefinitely after the center underwent an emergency appendectomy over the three-day Christmas break, the team announced this morning.
Update: Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told reporters in Detroit O’Reilly could miss two to three weeks.
The absence of O’Reilly, the Sabres’ top all-around forward and lone NHL All-Star last season, could doom a team dangerously close to falling out of the playoff hunt. The Sabres have lost four straight games (0-2-2) entering tonight’s road tilt against the Detroit Red Wings.
O’Reilly, 25, missed time with an oblique injury earlier this season. He has seven goals and 18 points in 27 games. He averages 21 minutes, 31 seconds of ice time a game, the third-highest total among NHL forwards.
The Sabres have battled injuries all season, although most of the players returned earlier this month.
O’Reilly is in the first season of a seven-year, $52.5 million contract.
Update: With O’Reilly out, Bylsma said winger Sam Reinhart will move back to center, his natural position.
Bylsma believes the switch is a “big opportunity” for Reinhart, who has seven goals and 19 points in 33 games. Reinhart briefly played center earlier this season.
“He should be comfortable in the middle of the ice,” he said.