The centerman was injured during Sunday’s preseason match-up against the Minnesota Wild early in the second period.
“It’s not something he could play through,” head coach Lindy Ruff said. “It was something that came up…When we had the MRI yesterday, it was found he needed to have it operated on.”
It was originally thought that Gaustad injured his thumb while taking on Marc-Andre Bergeron after the Minnesota forward laid a hit on Daniel Paille. But according to Ruff, it wasn’t during the fight, but in the previous shift that Gaustad claims he hurt it.
After appearing in all 82 games last season for the Sabres, it seems unlikely he will be ready for the home-opener Oct. 10.
“We are going to have to deal with [injuries],” Ruff said. “It’s a tough one to get right off the bat, but you have to move ahead without him.
“Your immediate thought [to replace him in the lineup] is we have Adam Mair who will be cleared to play the last preseason game. He’s been skating with us, practicing with us,” Ruff said. “He hasn’t been in a contact situation but we really feel that he’s chomping at the bit… That probably leaves Jochen in the middle where we could have maybe had Jochen on the wing. But we’ve got options and the next couple of games we will play around with those.”
Gaustad had career highs in overall scoring with 36 points as well as goals (10) and assists (26) last season, his third year with the team. He also tallied 199 hits and compiled 85 penalty minutes.
“We have to regroup as a team,” centerman Derek Roy said. “It’s always tough when you lose a player. He’s a big part of our team. He’s a physical guy, brings leadership to the dressing room and it’s a tough guy to replace. On the other hand, guys have to step up and play different roles.”