WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets are going to be without star forward Patrik Laine for some time, as the rookie has officially been diagnosed with a concussion.
There is currently no timetable on a return.
"There can't be on any of these," said Head Coach Paul Maurice. "He will go through the stages of recovery with it, and when the symptoms subside, we'll start increasing the workload and then get back on the ice."
Laine flew home with the team immediately after the game in Buffalo and attended Sunday's practice, but only as a spectator after visiting with team doctors earlier in the day. The winger looked to be in good spirits, laughing and joking around with teammates as he looked on from the player's bench.
Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice
In the meantime, Drew Stafford will fill the void alongside Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers, and Chris Thorburn will draw back into the lineup, in Stafford's old spot on the fourth line.
"(Stafford) scored 21 for us last year and scored recently, so he'll go into the hole with Mark and Nik. They had some real nice success last year together, and it was really around the time Ehlers started putting some pucks in the net for us," Maurice said.
"We'll leave the other lines the same."
On the power play, Joel Armia will be given a shot on Laine's unit, with Scheifele taking over on the half wall.
Maurice feels Armia - who scored on Saturday in Buffalo - is ready to break out and begin producing on a more regular basis offensively.
"He's had some great chances and sometimes it's just the opportunity get out there on the power play and if you get more points over a period of games, you can get your confidence going."
Laine leads all rookies with 21 goals and 37 points, and seemed to be a lock for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game. How this affects his chances at winning the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie remains to be seen, as Toronto forward Auston Matthews is currently tied with him in goals, but trails him in points by two.
"He's been tremendous for us," captain Blake Wheeler said. "Twenty-one goals halfway through the season, it's pretty incredible for anyone, let alone an 18-year-old. We're hoping for the best and it's nice to see him here today, so we're hoping to get some good news sooner rather than later."
In Laine's absence, the Jets are expected to recall a forward from the Manitoba Moose at some point over the next 24 hours.
Maurice had absolutely no problem with the hit, and does not condemn Sabres defenceman Jake McCabe for stepping up and making solid contact, even though he would do anything to protect his young star.
Video: WPG@BUF: Laine takes big check, leaves game
"There aren't the markers of a dirty hit," he said. "The elbows aren't up, he wasn't off his feet. They collided and both heads hit, and we got a bad result. It's an awfully hard hit, those happen in the game, but it wasn't dirty.
"When two big men get together at that quick a pace, there's going to be some collateral damage. It's a very unfortunate result and we're hoping to get Patty back healthy here, but there's no issue with it."
Laine briefly looked down to corral a pass from Scheifele, and in that split-second after receiving it, glancing up to protect himself in the open ice, there was nothing he could do to avoid the collision.
"He was out watching practice with a big smile on his face today. He's not feeling 100 percent, he's not feeling fresh, but he's walking around look good. He's got Nik Ehlers has his chauffeur for the next little while, so he's in good shape."
Video: PRACTICE | Nikolaj Ehlers
Ehlers, by the way, scored his 14th of the season in Saturday's loss, and now has nine goals in his last nine games, including five in his last four for 36 points, just one off the team lead.
While he will definitely miss Laine on his opposite wing, he is intrigued to see what he, Scheifele and Stafford can accomplish beginning tomorrow, at home, against the Calgary Flames.
"You never want to see any of your teammates go down, and certainly not like that," Ehlers said. "It's going to be tough. We were building some good chemistry, but that's the way it is and he's going to get better, hopefully very soon, so we've got to look forward.
"It's not going to have an impact on my game. I'm going to go out there and play the same game I always have. Staff comes in and we're going to try and build some chemistry, us three, right away."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com