ANALYSIS: Jets should take cautious approach to lineup as injured players return

Paul Edmonds Jets Report

It appears the worst might be over for the Winnipeg Jets when it comes to the injury bug that has ripped through the team seemingly since the start of the season — and that, in very short order, help will certainly be on the way.

As it stands right now, forwards Cole Perfetti and Nikolaj Ehlers and defenceman Nate Schmidt are the three players closest to pushing back into the lineup, and according to head coach Rick Bowness, are probably all ready to return Friday when Tampa Bay comes to town.

But there are a couple of small concerns about players returning from injury, or at least how they line up in getting back into the lineup.

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The first is, how many of those injured players do you want coming back to the team at one time? There has always been a feeling around hockey that the integration of injured players should be a somewhat staggered process to ensure there’s no relapses mid-game, and that only one player — two maximum — are getting back to game speed, in-game, at the same time. Any deviation from that seems too ambitious and somewhat risky.

The other part to consider is for each player returning, there will need to be a corresponding move to free up a spot on the team’s 23-man roster, understanding that waivers can come into play — and so can losing that player or players to another team in the process.

To date, with Jansen Harkins clearing waivers Tuesday, the Jets have one spot open, but for any other player coming off injury, additional roster relief will need to be created.

It’s understandable that the Jets — and their fans — are eager to see what a full Winnipeg team looks like, and the anticipation of stars like Perfetti and Ehlers back on the ice is exciting. Indeed, help is on the way, but a little caution might be advised in rushing everyone back at once to avoid the “help wanted” sign from hanging outside the Jets’ dressing room door once again.

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