One of the players the Jets could least afford to lose, Mathieu Perreault, is “likely” sidelined for the remainder of the regular season.
Perreault, 27, has been a standout for Winnipeg this season and was on pace for the best offensive season of his career. In 56 games, Perreault had registered 18 goals –tying his career best mark set in 2013-14 – and 36 points. The injury, sustained Monday against the Edmonton Oilers, came after Jeff Petry checked Perreault.
The full quote from Maurice, via NHL.com’s Patrick Williams, may shed the slightest glimmer of hope on the situation, however.
"We would be hopeful for him to return before the end of the regular season,” Maurice said, according to Williams. "If he does, it won't be much sooner than that."
While the loss would have hurt Winnipeg at any point in the season, its impact is going to be all the more serious due to how close the Western Conference wild-card race is. The Jets currently sit six points up on the Los Angeles Kings and four points ahead of the San Jose Sharks for the first wild-card spot.
Perreault didn’t score his first goal for the Jets until mid-November, but was on a tear throughout December and January, scoring 15 goals in 24 games over the two-month span.
On top of his offensive output, each of Perreault’s linemates that had played at least 150 minutes of 5-on-5 with him posted better possession numbers when alongside him than they did when playing without Perreault down the middle. That’s telling on a Jets team that has shown a vast improvement in puck possession. He has also been a positive possession while taking less than 50 percent of his faceoffs in the offensive zone.
The impact of Perreault’s injury – as well as the injury to newly acquired Drew Stafford which occurred in the same game – will be felt throughout the Jets lineup.
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice has already stated that in Stafford’s absence, blueliner Dustin Byfuglien will move up to forward.
In the meantime, the Jets have recalled winger Carl Klingberg from the St. John’s IceCaps. Klingberg hasn’t suited up for Winnipeg this season, but did skate in three games last season, scoring one goal.
Through 51 games with the IceCaps, Klingberg has registered 15 goals and 30 points.