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Big Buff back in practice, Clitsome on IR

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EDMONTON -- Health became an unexpected side issue for the Winnipeg Jets in their final full day of preparation for the 2013-14 NHL season.

While blueliner Dustin Byfuglien returned to full participation Monday after missing a day on the ice, his possible new partner, Grant Clitsome didn't make it through Monday's workout in Banff.

Clitsome, who missed some time last week with an unspecified injury, was put on the injured-reserve list by the Jets retroactive to last week.

There were clues that might leave rookie Jacob Trouba in for the promotion to Byfuglien's partner, at least for tonight's opener in Edmonton against the Oilers.

"I guess it switches so much in a game, you can't really think about it," said Byfuglien, who had crashed, legs-first, into the boards late in Friday's exhibition loss in Saskatoon. "You just go out there and everyone knows the job they need to do and should be doing.

"You worry about your job and you can't worry about what other people have to do... and you'll be fine."

Defenceman Zach Bogosian, who had also missed some time last week, was declared ready to go for tonight's game. He'll also likely start with a new partner on the blueline, Toby Enstrom.

Finished with the weekend of activity in Banff and getting ready to board the team's bus (and later jet) to Edmonton, Byfuglien said there's only one feeling within the team.

"To get a win," he declared. "We're here to win. That's the bottom line. Whichever way we figure out how to do it is how we've had to do it. We're not going to be a pretty team to watch but we're going to get it done. Simple and easy, just work on being consistent."

A lot of talk has centred on the team being harder to play against as it debuts in its new home in the NHL's Western Conference.

"I think we have to use our speed and size," Byfuglien said, answering the question "how?" "When you're battling for a puck, you want them to think, 'Oh man, I'm sick of battling against these guys.' You want to make it tough, doesn't matter where it is, where they're going to have to work for what they get."

Monday's roster moves, after defenceman Adam Pardy and centre Patrice Cormier cleared waivers, looked like they'd be straightforward.

Defenceman Zach Redmond, likely because he's on a two-way contract, was moved to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps, but then the Jets decided to keep Pardy on the roster while Clitsome is out for the short term.

The roster matters took some of the focus off the daily inspections of the Jets' new players (Devin Setoguchi, Michael Frolik and Matt Halischuk) and young players (Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele).

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who has assembled the most expensive version of his team in three years -- within a couple million of the $64.3-million cap -- was touting them Monday, along with the happy-to-be-forgotten circumstances of 12 months ago.

"Having a regular training camp is something we had the benefit of going through," Cheveldayoff said in Banff. "You have the opportunity to fully evaluate the roster positions. And this is excitement because last year at this time we were sitting here scratching our heads as to what was going to happen.

"Now it's full steam ahead. It's an exciting time to see a couple of new players we've acquired. It's an exciting time to see some young players getting some opportunities. But it's a day-by-day league and it starts (today)."

JETCETERA: The Jets dropped season-openers in both 2011 and early 2013. Appreciation for Trouba has grown through camp. "He made huge strides from (pre-season) Game 1 to Game 2 and I thought he has really played quite well through the rest of training camp," said coach Claude Noel. "He's been pretty much a bright light for us." ... The team's opening-night roster is officially seven names different from last year -- gone are Nik Antropov, Ron Hainsey, Alex Burmistrov, Kyle Wellwood, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Redmond and Clitsome. In are Pardy, Trouba, Setoguchi, Frolik, Halischuk, Eric Tangradi and Bogosian.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2013 C3

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