Jack Eichel takes big step in recovery, skates for first time since surgery

Source: Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP

Vegas Golden Knights fans received quite the treat on Thursday, as the team’s new forward Jack Eichel was spotted skating for the first time since his neck surgery last month.

While the video didn’t show him going nearly all out, it is still very good to see that he is back out on the ice and shows that his recovery is going smoothly. Some were nervous with the neck fusion procedure he was undergoing, given that it had never been done on an NHL player before. However, early on it appears all the research Eichel put into his neck procedure is paying off, and it could save him several months in recovery compared to the procedure the Buffalo Sabres were wanting him to get.

Prior to the operation, Eichel had said he was hoping to be good to go in three months, while his doctor gave him a timeline of three to five months. His return will be a massive boost for the Golden Knights, who recently welcomed back two other offensive weapons in Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. They are already scoring 3.18 goals per game, which ranks 10th in the league, and it is scary to think how much better that could possibly get once Eichel is back.

“The rehab process, you’re working out probably a week to 10 days post-operation,” Eichel told NHL Network on Nov. 5. “It’s not like you’re doing a workout with heavy weights or anything, but you’re able to move around. Hopefully at six weeks I’ll be able to get back on the ice and start skating. And I’m hoping around 12 weeks, three months, that I’ll be back playing.”

Eichel, 25, has been considered one of the best players in the game for some time now. Despite playing on a weak Sabres squad for the first six seasons of his career, he was able to produce very good offensive numbers, including what would have been a career year for Eichel in the shortened 2019-20 season, when in 68 games he scored 36 goals and 78 points.

Assuming Eichel is correct in his three month timeline, he would be ready to return in the middle of February. Of course, with the Olympic break, the Golden Knights have the majority of the month of February off, meaning he would likely return in early March if everything goes as planned. There is potential that his team could still be in the running for first place in the Pacific Division by that time, which would make his return all the more exciting. As of now, they are sitting fifth place in the Pacific, nine points behind the first place Calgary Flames.

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