Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele will be out several weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee but won’t require surgery, head coach Paul Maurice said this afternoon at the MTS Iceplex.
The team leaked some injury information to a TV network earlier in the day, but the coach wouldn’t say if Scheifele is actually out six to eight weeks.
"I never mentioned that," he said. "It’s all how fast this thing heals. You can check back with me in two or three weeks and I’ll give you a general idea of where it’s at. There’s a wide spectrum in terms of when they come back from these injuries but never before three to four weeks."
Maurice said for him, the news turned out, "to be a better morning that I was thinking it was going to be." He said that after watching the replay of New York Islanders defenceman Calvin de Haan’s lunging knee check and then getting the medical update.
So what will happen in the wake of Scheifele’s injury?
Maurice said the Jets are contemplating a replacement from within.
"We’ll be looking internally for somebody to play centre ice and shave some minutes," he said. "There’s going to be some movement in positions."
He wouldn’t name names because he hasn’t discussed it with any players.
The team sent only a half-dozen players on the ice this morning. The rest had a day off ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Los Angeles Kings.
Maurice also said this morning that right-winger Chris Thorburn, who played less than a minute of Tuesday’s overtime loss to New York, remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The news on Scheifele leaves Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff a tough decision leading to today’s 2 p.m. NHL trade deadline.
Cheveldayoff must consider where he goes next. Does he try to add a centre to fill in for Scheifele? The cost for that addition would be enormous at this late juncture.
Or does he take a look at the few pieces he has that he can sell for futures such as picks and prospects and begin selling? There is an opportunity to continue adding to the excellent work Cheveldayoff has done to this point in restocking the franchise’s organizational depth.
The other option is to stand pat and let the Jets as they are currently constructed try and fight their way in.
Three weeks ago the Jets were sellers but their recent resurgence has forced Cheveldayoff to try and add. Losing Scheifele for several weeks and likely most of the rest of the regular season must be taken into account.
The truth of the matter is the Jets are a longshot to make the post-season. Without Scheifele, arguably their No. 1 centre and certainly their No. 2, the Jets will be very hard-pressed to continue the hot streak that took them from a basement dweller to a post-season berth contender.
Scheifele has 11 points in the Jets last 16 games where they’ve put up an 11-3-2 mark. The rookie has 13 goals and 21 assists in 63 games this season after a low-scoring start in which he collected just five points in his first 25 games.
The development of Scheifele and defenceman Jacob Trouba has been the key story of the season for the Jets, and regardless of whether the team makes the playoffs, the future for the organization is far brighter with the addition of these budding stars.
Scheifele provides the Jets with a No. 1 centre for the future with a big body that is still filling out and a two-way that is rapidly growing. Trouba is an all-star in the making and the wildest assessments compare him to Chris Pronger. He could be a Norris Trophy winner some day.
Cheveldayoff has decisions to make and must process losing Scheifele. The good thing for fans is they won’t have long to wait. Cheveldayoff will address the media at 2:50 p.m. today and we'll be live streaming the conference.