BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jack Eichel had been off the ice for nearly a month, so it was a welcome sight for the Sabres Tuesday to see him back at practice and leading stretches. The star center looked happy to be back after a nasty injury.

"The toughest thing about being injured is not being on the ice with them every day. Not spending that quality time that you enjoy so much. You enjoy being out there and practicing, getting that battling in," said Eichel.

The next step is getting back into hockey shape after so much time away from the team.

"It doesn't come back overnight. It's a bit of a process but it comes back pretty quick. I don't think I lost too much," said Eichel.

"Halfway to three-quarter-way through practice, I thought he looked really good. As the practice went on, you could tell that he's been off the ice for a long time," said head coach Phil Housley.

Last year, Eichel hurt his left ankle and was out for six weeks. This year, it was his right ankle and he missed just four. Eichel said the injury was worse last year, but the frustration was even harder this year after getting hurt for a second time.

"You want to be in the lineup as much as possible. You want to be playing. You want to be around the guys every day. Mentally, it definitely wears on you that you're not playing. You're not competing with them every night. I'm lucky that it was just an ankle sprain, it could have been more severe," said Eichel.

Housley says Eichel is still day-to-day, and wouldn't put an exact timetable on his return to game action.