A sprained knee ligament suffered by rookie centre Mark Scheifele could dampen the Winnipeg Jets’ playoff hopes, but didn't force general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to act prior to Wednesday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.
Scheifele sprained the medial collateral ligament in his knee in the second period of Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime loss on Tuesday after colliding knee-on-knee with New York Islanders defenceman Calvin de Haan and will be sidelined a few weeks. Reports earlier on Wednesday suggested Scheifele could miss six to eight weeks of game action.
"There's not going to be any surgery required," Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters. "I think that's a real positive for us in a difficult situation. But it turned out to be a better morning than I was thinking I was going to hear."
Scheifele has 25 points in his last 35 games.
"He's been such a key part of our success lately," said forward Blake Wheeler. "His play has been something to really be excited about for everyone in the organization and everyone in our city.
"It's going to be tough to replace [him]. We're going to have to find a way to add some of the elements that he brings to our lineup and just hope that he can heal as quick as possible."
Should the 20-year-old Scheifele be out for an extended period, Winnipeg would have Bryan Little, Olli Jokinen, Eric O’Dell and Jim Slater down the middle.
Scheifele has 11 points in Winnipeg’s last 16 games in which it sports an 11-3-2 record and 34 points in 63 games overall. The Kitchener, Ont., native had a dreadful start to the season with only five points in his first 25 games.
The Jets entered play Wednesday in 10th place in the Western Conference with a 30-26-7 record and 67 points, one point back of eighth-place Dallas, which has a game in hand.
Later Wednesday, the Jets announced that they signed defenceman Mark Stuart to a four-year, $10.5-million US contract.