Bad news for the Winnipeg Jets on Monday as coach Paul Maurice announced that forward Nikolaj Ehlers is going to miss the remainder of the regular season due to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
The team is “hopeful” and “confident” that he will be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It is a significant injury because Ehlers has been the Jets’ best and most valuable player this season outside of starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck. He is having a career year offensively that has seen him score 21 goals and 46 total points in only 47 games. Project that over 82 games, and it is a 36-goal, 80-point pace. Ehlers has been one of the league’s most underrated players for a few years now and has finally started to get some recognition for his skill and production this year thanks to his breakout performance.
Ehlers was injured in the Jets’ loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. It is not clear when exactly the injury occurred, but he received a big hit from Jake Muzzin, and was also on the wrong end of a couple of heavy cross-checks from Joe Thornton. He played 16 minutes and scored a goal in the game.
Ehlers briefly went to the locker room before returning following the hit from Muzzin.
Maurice simply noted on Monday that Ehlers had been involved in a number of collisions during the game.
So what does this mean for the Jets? In the short-term they are going to make the playoffs. That much is not really in question. At this point it is simply just a matter of whether they finish in second or third place in the North Division, and even then it will not change their matchup (it will most likely be the Edmonton Oilers). It will simply just determine who gets home-ice advantage.
The long-term concern is simply having him healthy and ready for the playoffs.
If he is, this is just a temporary speed bump at the end of the regular season.
If he is not, that could significantly impact what they are capable of doing once they get to the playoffs.