Eichel bumped from Sabres top lines, “Not a demotion” says Housley

Sabres coach Phil Housley did not list Jack Eichel as a center in his top two lines.

FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (15) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Buffalo, N.Y. Connor McDavid's eight-year, $100 million contract is the latest and most eye-popping example of a shift in priority by NHL teams intent on locking up their young stars. The expectation is for Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine to also start cashing in over the next few years. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In Monday’s morning skate before the Sabres host the Blue Jackets, head coach Phil Housley decided to shake things up.

In a big way.

Housley said his top line with be centered by Ryan O’Reilly with Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart on the wings. Kane leads the Sabres in points and goals, with 19 and 11 respectively.

The second group will be centered by Johan Larsson with Benoit Pouliot and Kyle Okposo.

When asked if that meant star center Jack Eichel was demoted to the team’s third line, Housley quickly stopped the conversation.

“There is no third line.”

He went on to add that switching up the lines may give the Sabres a boost, after going winless in their last five games.

“I don’t see it as a demotion,” Housley added. “(Jack) is a terrific player, I think you can put anybody on his wings.”

In the Sabres locker room Eichel did speak with reporters saying the move was “part of the game.”

The Sabres host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at 7 p.m.

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