April 4: Both Connor and Schmidt have cleared the protocol and re-joined the Jets at practice today, after missing three games. Unfortunately, the team lost two of those and now sits six points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild card position.
March 30: The Winnipeg Jets will not have Kyle Connor or Nate Schmidt in the lineup for the next few games, as they have both tested positive for coronavirus and have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol. Not only will they miss tonight’s match against the Buffalo Sabres, but Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that they will also have to remain in the U.S. for the next five days, while the Jets head to Toronto and then back to Winnipeg.
It’s brutal timing for the Jets, who have won seven of their past ten games and are just three points behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild card spot. They have played 67 games, meaning every single one is extremely important from here on out, and losing Connor is a huge blow. The 25-year-old forward has scored 41 goals and 82 points in 67 games, setting new career highs in both categories. That includes 18 points in that recent ten-game stretch, carrying the offensive load for the Jets in recent weeks.
While losing Connor is probably the worst thing that could happen, losing Schmidt is also a substantial blow to the Jets. The 30-year-old leads all Winnipeg defensemen with 31 points in 66 games, and is still averaging more than 20 minutes a night (though that number has dropped recently). Losing both could very well be a death sentence for the Jets’ season, if other players aren’t able to step up and secure some points in the next three games.
Interestingly enough, even though they sold Andrew Copp at the deadline, the Jets have actually brought in some forward depth of late. Mason Appleton, Morgan Barron, and Zach Sanford were all acquired, giving them some more options that will hopefully emerge over the next few games.