PHILADELPHIA -- The Winnipeg Jets got back to work Monday afternoon with some new help from the farm -- and with defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and forward Alex Burmistrov close, but not quite ready, to return to action.
Returning to the ice for the first time since the NHL All-Star break, the Jets practiced at the University of Pennsylvania with two new faces in St. John’s IceCaps call-ups Aaron Gagnon and Spencer Machacek on board after being called up from the AHL.
Evander Kane was also at the U of Penn, but did not skate and was to return to Winnipeg to be further evaluated after suffering a concussion sometime earlier this month.
Head coach Claude Noel said his travel plans had been made prior to his injury and he opted to join the team briefly from the all-star break before heading back to Manitoba.
"He’s probably a little ways away because we’ve got to get him working out, but he’s feeling better," said Noel. "We’ll see what his assessment is there. I think he still has some areas of symptoms. We haven’t got to the stage where he is working out yet and that’s probably a little ways away."
Tim Stapleton, meanwhile, is also back in Winnipeg and Noel said he had hit a ‘bump’ in his recovery from a lower-body injury.
Both Byfuglien (knee) and Burmistrov (suspected concussion) skated on Monday wearing orange no-contact jerseys but will not play in Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Jets are hoping to have the two back in the lineup for either Thursday’s game in Tampa or Friday’s matchup with Florida.
"Byfuglien is close, but will not be a player (Tuesday). But he’s close and we’re hoping… soon," said Noel. " I’m not sure if it’s the next game or not, but it’s going to be close. Burmistrov, we’re going to keep him out for another day but he’s also close.
"Other than that, everybody’s ready to go healthy-wise. We’ve just got to get our rust out. There was a lot of rust out there on the ice today. We had to get a special Zamboni out there to come in and clean it up."
As for the promotions from St. John’s, the 26-year-old Gagnon made his Jets’ debut against the New York Rangers a week ago after racking up eight goals and 12 assists in 35 games with the IceCaps. He has appeared in 22 career NHL games with Dallas and Winnipeg after originally being drafted by Phoenix in 2004.
Machacek, 23, leads the IceCaps in scoring with 34 points (11G, 23A) in 44 games. He has 12 NHL games under his belt with Atlanta after originally being drafted by the Thrashers in 2007.
The Jets also announced a minor trade, dealing forward Akim Aliu to the Calgary Flames for defenceman John Negrin.
The 22-year-old Negrin has played in 26 games with the Abbotsford Heat this year, picking up one assist, after starting the season with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL. A 6-3, 205-pound product of Vancouver, Negrin was a third-round draft pick of the Flames in 2007. He has played in three NHL games with the Flames.