IceCaps’ leading score recalled by Winnipeg; could play for Jets against Sabres tonight
Eric O'Dell has arrived in Buffalo, N.Y., not sure if he will be playing hockey tonight, but knowing he finally is in the National Hockey League.
O'Dell, the leading scorer for the AHL's St. John's IceCaps, has been recalled by the parent Winnipeg Jets, who take on the Sabres in Buffalo tonight.
It is the first recall to the NHL for the 23-year-old centre, who has 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 28 games for St. John's this season.
Earlier this afternoon, just after arriving in Buffalo from his hometown of Ottawa, the 23-year-old centre told The Telegram he hadn't yet been informed iif he would be dressing for tonight's game, but added that he had been patient and positive over the last couple of years while awaiting a big-league opportunity and that he was remaining in that mode when so near to his career goal.
"I that much closer right now, and I'm sure my chance is coming," said O'Dell, who was the IceCaps' MVP in 2012-13, when he topped the team with 55 points (29 goals and 26 assists) in 59 games.
He is also the club's all-time leading scorer, with 106 points — evenly divided between 53 goals and 53 assists — in 126 games.
The Jets had a roster opening after winger Matt Halischuk went on injured reserve with a broken arm over the weekend. That, plus the continued unavailability of centre Jim Slater (hernia) and the three-game NHL suspension given winger Anthony Peluso this week, left Winnipeg with just 12 available forwards before the O'Dell recall.
The IceCaps have started a Christmas break that won't end until Dec. 27. Besides tonight's game, Winnipeg will play three more times before now and Dec. 24, when the team begins a brief, three-day holiday hiatus.
O'Dell was selected in the second round, 39th overall, by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. His rights were acquired in a trade by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009, two years before the Thrashers franchise relocated to Winnipeg.
O'Dell re-signed with the Jets as a restricted free agent over the summer, inking a one-year, two-way contract that pays him $600,000 at the NHL level.