Jets center Bryan Little has been out of the lineup since taking a puck to the head in early November and he’s going to be out for a while yet. Head coach Paul Maurice told reporters, including Ken Wiebe of The Athletic (Twitter links) that while the veteran has gone through a variety of tests that have yielded some positive results, they are shutting him down for the rest of the season and he will undergo surgery to help repair his perforated eardrum. The procedure carries a three-month recovery period.
The 32-year-old only played in seven games with Winnipeg this season but was relatively productive in that span, picking up two goals and three assists. While his days of playing on the top line have come and gone, he has still been a reliable secondary scorer and the Jets were certainly hoping he’d be able to come back down the stretch and give their offense a boost.
Now, it appears that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will need to turn to the trade market to get that improvement. While they’re believed to be wary of going after a prominent rental again, they will have plenty of LTIR space to work with as Little and his $5.291MM AAV can be moved onto there while they have enough confirmation regarding suspended defenseman Dustin Byfuglien’s status to spend on a short-term replacement for him. All of a sudden, Winnipeg could be a team to watch for between now and the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, Maurice provided an update to reporters, including Mitchell Clinton of the Jets’ team website (Twitter link) regarding two of their other injured forwards. Adam Lowry (upper body) and Mathieu Perreault (upper body) are both listed as week-to-week with the latter likely to return first. That will likely only increase the need for them to try to add a forward over the next week or so.