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This article was published 13/2/2019 (466 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nikolaj Ehlers' return to the Jets lineup can no longer be characterized as imminent.
The speedy Danish-born forward, who turns 23 on Thursday, could be out another three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered Jan. 4 in Pittsburgh, said Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice, following the team's optional skate Wednesday.
It was suggested Ehlers might be ready for Saturday's game against the visiting Ottawa Senators, but the time frame was altered once he saw a doctor Tuesday.
"He didn't have a setback but he just had an appointment yesterday, and we're looking at another week or two, at least," said Maurice. "He was getting close to the end of the window, wasn't feeling a whole lot better and then we had it checked again. So, it's going to be longer than we thought."
The end of February now seems likely, he said.
Ehlers, who was hurt in a collision with Penguins star centre Sidney Crosby, has missed 17 games for the Jets. Prior to going down, he had 15 goals and 12 assists in 40 games. The bulk of that time he was grouped with centre Mark Scheifele and right-winger Blake Wheeler, although Kyle Connor has been dynamite filling in on that line since Ehlers was shelved.
But his explosiveness and the special attention he demands from opponents is missed, said Jets centre Bryan Little.
"His speed is one of the main things. He's one of the faster players on our team, and when he's got the puck it just seems like he finds another gear," said Little. "Something I didn't really notice until he left is his ability to draw penalties. When he is carrying the puck and with that speed, he makes guys haul him down a lot and he draws penalties that way."
Winnipeg defenceman Dmitry Kulikov (upper body) is listed as day-to-day.
Admittedly, Maurice chugged too much coffee Wednesday and was even chattier than normal with reporters following the team's optional skate at Bell MTS Place. He had plenty to say about the team's premier centre the morning after Mark Scheifele fired his 29th and 30th goals of the season — making him one of only a dozen stars to reach 30 with fewer than eight weeks left in the 2018-19 campaign.
Scheifele is tied with linemate, right-winger Blake Wheeler for ninth (68) in the NHL point-scoring race, and the 25-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., is on pace for a career-best 98-point campaign. His previous high was 82 points in 79 games two seasons ago.
Maurice spoke glowingly about the 6-3, 207-pound former first-round pick (2011), refusing to place a ceiling on what the first-time NHL all-star can accomplish.
"If you were to ask me is Mark a shooter or a passer, I don’t have an answer for you. He had no shot attempts in the first two or three games (in Round 1 of the '17-18 playoffs against the Minnesota Wild). And then it changed and he set an NHL record for road goals. So he can do both, truly. He can make those plays but he is a shooter," said Maurice. "He’s a bit of everything, maybe that’s the best answer. He’s a really fit guy, he understands the game, he’s constantly working on his game so he will eventually check all the boxes.
"I have a higher opinion of Mark Scheifele than he has. I think he has that (ability) to be a one-team player that wins cups, and is the captain of it at some point and gets a bronze statue in front of the building kind of guy. I do."
There will be no West Coast trip for the young stars of the Winnipeg Jets this fall.
Instead, the Jets rookies will join the hopefuls of the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens for a showcase of the teams' prospects in early September in Belleville, Ont.
Winnipeg will play the Sens and Habs rookies and then close out the tournament against Ottawa's rookies again.
Since 2011, the Jets rookies have played in the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C., against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
Here's Winnipeg's schedule (all games at 6 p.m.):
Friday, Sept. 6: Ottawa vs. Winnipeg
Sunday, Sept. 8: Montreal vs. Winnipeg
Monday, Sept. 9: Winnipeg vs. Ottawa
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).