Jake McCabe will be out the remainder of the season for the Buffalo Sabres after the defenseman sustained injuries in his right knee to the ACL, MCL and meniscus.
The expected recovery time is 6-8 months.
"Although it's been an extremely difficult few days, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support and well wishes from my family, friends, [Buffalo Sabres] organization and the Buffalo community," McCabe said in a tweet Tuesday. "I greatly appreciate it and I know my best hockey is yet to come."
McCabe had an MRI on Sunday after he was injured in a 3-2 win at the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. He was favoring his right leg when he left the game at 8:57 of the third period after attempting to check Devils center Nico Hischier.
"I had tears two nights ago already," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said before a 3-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Monday. "It was pretty clear on the doctor's first assessment we were dealing with a really serious setback. The confirmation just underlines the pain that we feel for the person, first and foremost, and then the player that we've lost for the season. It's an amazing setback in addition to what the group's gone through after COVID. He was part of the COVID package. Is this connected to COVID or not connected? We'll never know. We could philosophically look at this forever. It's just another shot, but we have a group of character and everybody needs to step up and help to fill the big hole that [McCabe] leaves with his injury."
The 27-year-old, who is an alternate captain, scored three points (one goal, two assists) and averaged 19:10 in ice time in 13 games this season. The game Saturday was his third since being removed from the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.
McCabe can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"Jake's a guy that, he's taken a lot of strides in the last couple of years as a leader," Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said Sunday. "He's somebody that I have a ton of respect for and all the guys have a lot of respect for in that room. I don't know what the final prognosis is yet, but he's going to be a guy that's dearly missed on and off the ice."
McCabe's injury further depletes Buffalo's defenseman depth. The Sabres also are without William Borgen, out 6-8 weeks after having surgery to repair a fracture in his right forearm, also sustained in the loss to New Jersey on Saturday, and Rasmus Ristolainen, who was removed from COVID-19 protocol Feb. 17 and is working his way back into shape after testing positive for the virus Feb. 2. He hasn't played since Jan. 31.
"Yeah, with McCabe, it's so unlucky," Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said." He's one of our main guys in the locker room and main guy on the ice. It's going to be huge loss. With [Ristolainen] gone, too, we just have to make the best of it and try to compete. It's another game and we can't really do anything about it right now. It's not fun, for sure, when those types of things happen."
NHL.com independent correspondent Heather Engel contributed to this story