Kyle Wellwood was officially "cleared for contact" on Thursday, according to Winnipeg Jets officials, but it hardly meant he was skating around with a bulls-eye on his back.
"We're all teammates," said the veteran Jets' centre after practice with a smile, "so the contact is limited."
Wellwood, 28, had his appendix removed just over a month ago and doctors had ordered that he be limited to just skating and drills until this week. He'll be among the group travelling to Carolina this weekend for an exhibition game against the Hurricanes on Sunday.
A veteran of 373 NHL games with Toronto, Vancouver and San Jose, Wellwood signed with the Jets as a free agent earlier this month. And his take on his new squad?
"We've got a good quality group of defencemen, the goaltending looks solid and we've got some forwards who can play two ways and score," Wellwood said. "It's going to be a matter of the forward group establishing themselves and getting better and finding good line combos that can get the job done."
Also returning to work was defenceman Randy Jones.
"I'd like to see him in a game," said head coach Claude Noel. "I know him from watching him on tape, so let's give him a chance to play and get his feet under him. He's going to be a couple days behind, but he's been good from what I've seen so far. I've liked him. He moves, moves the puck and looks like a guy who could give us some good minutes."
EIGHT WAS ENOUGH: The Jets released eight players from their training camp roster on Thursday, including three 2011 draft picks.
Sent back to their junior clubs were winger Adam Lowry (3rd round, 67th overall; Swift Current Broncos); defenceman Zach Yuen (4th round, 119th overall; Tri-City Americans) and winger Austen Brassard (5th round, 149th overall; Belleville Bulls).
Also heading back to junior are defencemen Kendal McFaull (a sixth-round pick in 2010; Moose Jaw Warriors) and Sebastian Owuya (6th rounder in 2010; Medicine Hat Tigers) and winger/centre Ivan Telegin (a fourth-rounder last year, Barrie Colts) while free agent Mike Kirkpatrick has been assigned to the St. John's IceCaps. Levko Koper, whose junior eligibility is complete, is apparently headed to the University of Alberta.
NO. 9, THE INSIDER: Here's Evander Kane's scouting report on the Jets' group of forwards -- a crew which will be looked upon to be a lot more productive this season:
"We're one of the better-skating groups with a lot of speed and a lot of youth. We've got some good young legs and a lot of skill up front as well with Alex Burmistrov, Antropov and Ladd, Wheeler, Timmy Stapleton... the list goes on. I think we're going to be an exciting group to watch.
"We're going to get used to each other and once we sort the lines out later on in the preseason we'll build some chemistry."