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Dahlin 'a ways away' from rejoining Sabres, Okposo closer to return

Defenseman working out following concussion; forward hopes to play during trip after same injury

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Rasmus Dahlin isn't ready to rejoin the Buffalo Sabres, but Kyle Okposo is hoping to return during their upcoming road trip.

Each is out with a concussion. Dahlin, a defenseman, sustained his Nov. 25 against the Tampa Bay Lightning; Okposo, a forward, was injured Nov. 16 against the Ottawa Senators. 

Okposo practiced with his teammates Monday for the first time since the injury, joining the morning skate before a game against the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV). 

"Good to just skate with the guys again, a little over two weeks so getting a little bit antsy obviously. Feels great to be back out there," Okposo said. "I'd love to play tonight, but I don't think that's going to happen. I don't know, probably some time on that Western Canada trip [later this week], I would say, sometime there. Get a couple practices with the guys and get back up to speed."

Video: OTT@BUF: Okposo cashes in on on the power play

Dahlin, who has been working out off the ice, watched the morning skate from the bench. He leads Sabres defensemen with 16 points (one goal, 15 assists) in 24 games.

"It's still in the step by step [phase]," coach Ralph Krueger said of Dahlin's recovery. "Off-ice is the word and the key, and that one is an injury like Okposo's where we need to be really careful and take little baby steps at a time. It's good to see him here. We hope that the healing continues, but he's still a ways away."

Video: BUF@PIT: Dahlin flips puck over Murray's glove

Okposo, who has five points (one goal, four assists) in 19 games, began skating last Wednesday. If all goes well, he will practice again before the Sabres head out on a three-game trip that begins against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

Injuries hit the Sabres hard in November; they lost a forward to injury in five straight games from Nov. 8-17. 

"It's excellent to have Kyle there," Krueger said. "As a person, you all know the value of him in the room. The loss of experience that we had back to back to back there with [Marcus] Johansson, [Vladimir] Sobotka, Okposo going out.

"We felt a difference in the team and lineup with Johansson coming back [Nov. 27 after a seven-game absence], it's good to see [Sobotka] at least in the room, even though he won't be a part of the process here for a while. [Okposo] is a very important person to mentor our younger players and to be an example, more than anything, of what it takes to be competitive every day."

Okposo eyes a return this week, but the Sabres won't rush him back.

"It's great to see him, but we don't expect him back here for a while," Krueger said. "This is a process we need to be careful with. It was good to see him skating with us but for us, he's still a ways away from any type of contact."

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