Center Jack Eichel to return from ankle injury vs. Senators

OTTAWA -- Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel will make his 2016-17 season debut Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.

Eichel, 20, sustained a high-ankle sprain during training camp and missed the first 21 games. His presence in the lineup should help the Sabres, who are 7-9-5.

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it," Eichel said. "I've been waiting a while, so it'll be nice to play a game."

Based on previous practices and the team's morning skate Tuesday, Eichel will be playing with linemates Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane. The type of injury Eichel sustained will still take some time to fully heal, but he said he'll try not to think about it once the puck drops.

"That's where I tried to get to on the ice in practice, not thinking about it and just going out there and playing," he said. "Obviously it's there but you don't want any restrictions; you want to be out there playing your game for the most part and not worry about it. That's the point I wanted to get to and that's where I am now, so that's why I'm going to play."

Eichel played for Team North America during the World Cup of Hockey in September before he suffered the injury with the Sabres.

"Obviously the hardest part is not being able to play," he said. "You work all summer to try to hit the ground running, and you're excited about the season. It's your second year and you're looking forward to it and you're postponed a little bit, but that happens.

"Hockey's a contact game with a lot of injuries. I just credit the staff here with the Sabres and everyone that has helped me get healthy quick, and I just look forward to returning tonight and trying to make an impact on the team."

During his rookie season, the 2015 No. 2 overall pick posted 24 goals and 32 assists for 56 points in 81 games.

"There's a big point of anticipation having him back," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "The injury came right at the cusp of the season, and it was a tough injury, and he was out for a considerable amount of time, and now you have that anticipation of having him back in your lineup."