JOFFREY LUPUL is no longer in the mix for the opening of the NHL season, but he has no doubt about his place in the club’s plans.
The 26-year-old centre had one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory last year with the Buffalo Sabres, recording 37 points in 65 games, but injuries limited him to just six games in the season opener against the Minnesota Wild.
After sitting out most of the season with a broken bone in his left foot, Lupul returned to the lineup in late November and has scored six goals and 11 assists in the last six games.
While there’s a good chance he’s still in the NHL by the time the Sabres face the Philadelphia Flyers in their opening game on Friday night, he doesn’t think that’s a realistic goal right now.
“I’m not sure, man,” Lupul said.
“But I know I’ve got to continue to work hard.
I’ve been able to put up some great numbers, so hopefully I can continue to get better every single day and get better.
That’s what I want to do.”
In his first full season in the league, Lupu has made the jump from junior to the NHL, becoming one of Buffalo’s top prospects.
But with the Sabres looking for a centre, the team could be looking for another winger to fill the void at the position.
“We need a winger,” said Lupul.
“That’s our priority right now, and we have a couple guys we’re looking at, so I just want to continue working hard every day.
I know that I’ve just got to get my game up.
Hopefully I can do that.”