Jets lose yet another d-man, rule Stuart out ’til February

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If this keeps up, Winnipeg’s going to run out of defensemen.

On Thursday, the club announced that veteran rearguard Mark Stuart would be out of the lineup ’til February with a lower-body injury, making him the fourth defenseman the club has lost for a significant length of time.

Jacob Trouba is out ’til February as well with an upper-body injury, while Tobias Enstrom (lower body) and Zach Bogosian (lower-body) aren’t expected back until early- to mid-January.

Stuart, 30, had appeared in all 32 games this year prior to getting hurt, scoring nine points while averaging just under 20 minutes a night. The TOI factor is key; with Stuart out, the Jets are now down their four biggest minutes leaders (Enstrom was above 25 per game at the time of his injury, while Trouba and Bogosian averaged 23:34 and 22:47 respectively.)

At this point, it’s fairly obvious that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to explore a trade. The Jets are heading into Friday’s game against Boston with a projected top-six defense of Dustin Byfuglien, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma, Ben Chiarot, Grant Clitsome and (we assume) the soon-to-be-recalled Julien Brouillette, who was brought up earlier in December but has yet to appear in a game.