The Winnipeg Jets experienced some uncertainty right before the trade deadline after losing Josh Morrissey to injury the day before. It wasn’t exactly clear how long Morrissey would be out, but the team acted quickly by bringing in Bogdan Kiselevich and Nathan Beaulieu to add some depth on the blue line. Today, Jets head coach Paul Maurice announced that Morrissey will miss all of March and is looking at a return in early April.
Morrissey, 23, is an absolutely huge part of the Winnipeg blue line and the anchor of the left side. He averages more than 22 minutes a night and trails only Jacob Trouba in terms of scoring from the Jets defenders. His 31 points in 59 games are already easily a career high, as he has developed nicely into a top-end puck-moving option for the team while not losing any of his shutdown ability. There are few players who can excel like Morrissey does in almost any situation, and it will be an extremely tough task to replace his minutes adequately.
The Jets finish their season on April 6th and will presumably be starting their first playoff series a few days later, meaning Morrissey will have to jump right back into extremely important games and shake off the rust immediately. It’s nice that the team has other top options like Trouba, Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien, but they’ll need Morrissey to be at his best as they try to navigate the Western Conference playoff picture.
His absence will likely create a huge opportunity for one of Beaulieu or Kiselevich to show what they can do. Both players found themselves in the press box on a regular basis with their last teams, but have shown ability in the past. Kiselevich notably was pursued heavily by the Jets before eventually signing in Florida, an indication that the team believes in his talent level and could give him a shot. Beaulieu struggled to find his game in Buffalo but is still just 26 and has experience in the NHL playoffs.