The Buffalo Sabres are hoping forward Kyle Okposo will be able to return next season after an illness caused him to miss the final six games of this season.
Okposo, 28, reportedly was hospitalized at Buffalo General Hospital because of an undisclosed ailment on April 2.
"I don't have an update further for you on Kyle," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Monday. "With his illness, we were still well behind the [Stanley Cup Playoff] chase at that point in time. But he's become a big leader on our team and a big player on our team and one we missed on the ice."
Okposo played two games after returning from a rib injury that caused him to miss 10 games. He became ill prior to a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 28.
"You miss him in the locker room," forward Jack Eichel said. "You miss him every day. He's a leader; he comes to the rink, he works hard. He's a good voice; a great player. He's a good friend of mine. I'm really close to him so it's tough to see him go through what he went through."
The Sabres finished 33-37-12, 17 points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, and lost five of six games (1-5-0) to end the regular season.
"I think more to the effect is Kyle's presence in our room and I think he's developed into and become a big leader in that dressing room, and there's a big part missing when he's not there with that leadership. And that's one we're hoping he will recover well from in his sickness and get back for our team in the fall and being that for this group in the fall," Bylsma said.
Okposo, who signed a seven-year contract with the Sabres reportedly worth $42 million on July 1, had 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 65 games.
- NHL.com Correspondent Joe Yerdon contributed to this report