The Jets are off to a strong start to their season, entering tonight’s game in Vancouver with a 19-9-1 record despite missing several regulars due to injuries. That list has now grown as head coach Rick Bowness told reporters, including Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press (Twitter link) that winger Blake Wheeler will miss at least a month after undergoing groin surgery. Meanwhile, defenseman Nate Schmidt, who went on injured reserve yesterday, will be out for four to six weeks.
Wheeler had an interesting start to his season as the captaincy was taken away from him while getting off to a bit of a quiet start. However, the 36-year-old has been quite productive over the last four weeks, notching 16 points in his last 13 games, bringing him up to a tie for fourth in team scoring.
All of a sudden, the Jets find themselves without their top three right wingers. Nikolaj Ehlers has missed all of two games this season, Mason Appleton has been out since mid-November, and now Wheeler will be out for a little while. None of these injuries are season-ending so they can’t create any LTIR space for themselves and their cap space is starting to dwindle as a result of their injury-associated recalls so GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will be in tough to try to shore things up in the short-term.
As for Schmidt, he has cleared concussion protocol and is believed to be dealing with a shoulder issue. The 31-year-old has six points in 29 games so far this season while he’s averaging just shy of 20 minutes a night. He joins Logan Stanley as blueliners that are banged up while Ville Heinola has missed four straight games due to illness.