Zemgus Girgensons is out for the season for the Buffalo Sabres after having hamstring surgery Wednesday.
Girgensons was injured during a scrimmage Monday and is expected to need six months to recover. He was helped off the ice after falling awkwardly trying to check teammate Steven Fogarty.
“We all can feel the hole that Zemgus leaves with his injury — the character, the work ethic, the role that he has in our group is something that makes him unique,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. “I challenged the group today to chip in and to take a piece of that hole. We’re going to keep Zemgus close, because how important he is in the organization, what a personality he is in the organization. We want to keep him close in the rehab and help him to get back.”
Girgensons scored 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) in 69 games last season and led Sabres forwards in hits (110). The No. 14 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has scored 138 points (61 goals, 77 assists) in 489 NHL games.
“You feel terrible for him,” Sabres captain Jack Eichel said. “He’s had a long offseason, as we all have … he’s a super important part of our team. So it’s a big loss in our lineup but it’s a big loss personalitywise, because he brings a lot to our group on and off the ice. So we’re going miss him deeply. He’ll have a good recovery and he’ll be back before we know it. But, yeah, it’s unfortunate that you lose him for as long as you do. You just feel for a guy like that that’s put so much work in. It seems like it’s taken away from him right before the season.”
Krueger said the Sabres would need other players to step up defensively. Buffalo is scheduled to open the season Jan. 14 at home against the Washington Capitals.
“Kyle Okposo and the way he’s embraced the principles that we are continuing to try to turn into habits — we have new players that need to walk into that space — is an amazing example of us on a daily basis that needs to be done,” Krueger said. “It is that way that he is a leader both on and off the ice and somebody that really is exemplary in executing the team game for us regularly and consistently last year. You can see the pair with Tobias Rieder today (at practice) that we are confident that Toby could help be that kind of a player for us.”
NHL.com independent correspondent Heather Engel contributed to this report