Winnipeg already has three top-nine forwards and two regular defenders on the shelf with ailments, and the injury bug appeared to bite again Thursday night.
Having dropped their past three games and dealing with a string of injuries, the Winnipeg Jets are about as thin as they could possibly get this early in the season.
Already, the Jets are missing a trio of forwards in Bryan Little, Drew Stafford, Shawn Matthias and defensemen Mark Stuart and Tyler Myers have been on the shelf for back-to-back games, with the latter landing himself on the injured reserve. If that wasn’t enough, though, matters got much worse after Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals with a pair of injuries to Joel Armia and Mathieu Perreault.
Updates on the extent of the injuries aren’t expected until shortly before the Jets take on the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena Friday night, but Winnipeg has to be holding its breath as they await the reports. Because while missing three regular forwards is a significant blow, losing two additional members of the middle-six could have the Jets’ offense in shambles.
Armia, 23, has found a role up and down the lineup over the course of the campaign, and his one goal and four points in 10 games has made for steady offensive contribution. Armia also brings quite a bit of offensive creativity, too, which the Jets could use with the likes of Little and Stafford out of the lineup.
The bigger blow, though, would be losing Perreault for any significant period of time.
Though he often goes unheralded in a lineup that features the likes of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien, Perreault has become an integral part of the Jets’ core group, and the 28-year-old pivot has shown he can be a solid contributor at both ends of the ice. That said, he has seen his share of struggles this season, managing just one goal and three points in 11 games this season.
Signed to a four-year, $16.5-million extension in the off-season, Perreault has been a fixture on the team’s top two lines, and his absence is going to be even more significant with the injury to Little. In fact, with both Perreault and Little out of the lineup, the Jets’ center depth — which already was far from exceptional — is going to be incredibly thin.
With Scheifele manning the top unit, the likely second-best option at pivot is Adam Lowry, followed by recent AHL call-up Andrew Copp with Nic Petan rounding out the group after being brought up following the injuries during Thursday night’s game. One possibility, however, could see Alexander Burmistrov flipped back down the middle and one of the recently recalled forwards manning the wing.
The best-case scenario, though, would be that the Jets don’t have to worry about finding a fit down the middle for long at all and that Perreault — and Armia, for that matter — can return in short order. But if that’s not the case, Winnipeg could be heading for some trying times.
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