Sabres forward Evander Kane set to return from broken ribs

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane is set to return on Wednesday, and star center Jack Eichel might not be too far behind.

Coach Dan Bylsma announced that Kane will play against Ottawa in his first game since missing 11 with broken ribs.

As for Eichel, Bylsma said he was meeting with a doctor to have his sprained left ankle evaluated and could soon be cleared for on-ice workouts.

"I don't want to suggest that it's going to be today or tomorrow or the next day that he's getting on the ice, but he's progressing quite nicely," Bylsma said of Eichel, one of the NHL's top rookies last season.

That's encouraging news for a banged-up team that lost Kane and Eichel to injuries a day apart a month ago.

Eichel was hurt during practice on Oct. 12, a day before Buffalo's season opener against Montreal. Kane was hurt in a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens, when he lost his balance and crashed into the end boards.

"It's not feeling pretty good, but it's well enough where I can contribute," Kane said, assessing his ribs. "I feel I can be a difference-maker on the team, so I'm looking forward to proving that and going out there tonight and showing it."

Kane spent the past week taking part in individual drills, including contact sessions -- the most physical of which occurred on Monday.

He's a two-time 20-goal-scorer and hard-hitting player who is being counted on to fill a spot on one of Buffalo's two top lines.

In his eighth NHL season, Kane has seen his production slowed by injuries.

The Sabres acquired him in a multiplayer trade in February 2015 with Winnipeg and after Kane had season-ending shoulder surgery.

He also has encountered off-ice troubles.

Last week, a Buffalo judge agreed to dismiss charges against Kane stemming from altercations he had with three women and a bouncer at a bar in June. He was accused of grabbing the women by the hair and neck.

Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty referred to Kane's behavior as "arrogant, boorish and surly, but not criminal."

Kane denied the allegations, and his lawyer said the agreement does not include an admission of guilt.

Kane said his only concern this past month was getting healthy.

"I really haven't felt like anything's been hanging over my head outside of not being able to play," he said. "Now that I'm healed up and ready to go, that's what I'm looking forward to."

Bylsma said center Tyler Ennis is being evaluated for what he called "a mid-body injury" and won't play against Ottawa.