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Byfuglien out for Jets until after All-Star Weekend

Defenseman sustained lower-body injury in loss to Wild

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Dustin Byfuglien will be out until at least after the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 25-26 with a lower-body injury, Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said Sunday. 

Byfuglien was injured in the third period of a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday when he collided with Wild forward Luke Kunin.

"He's out," Maurice said. "He's going to be a while. So we'll give you the next update probably after the All-Star break. Then there will be a window there. No surgery, just a flesh wound. He'll be out for a while."

Video: MIN@WPG: Byfuglien leaves game due to injury

Winnipeg is 5-0-1 with Byfuglien out of the lineup this season. The 33-year-old defenseman missed two games with an upper-body injury (Oct. 14-16) and four games with a concussion (Nov. 29-Dec. 4).

Given the prognosis, Byfuglien will miss at least the next 10 games. The Jets resume play after the All-Star break when they play at the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 28.

Byfuglien leads the Jets with an average of 24:30 of ice time and is ninth in the NHL in scoring among defensemen with 29 points (four goals, 25 assists) in 32 games.

"It's a big void," defenseman Ben Chiarot said. "He's obviously one of the top players in the League and an important piece of our team. Whatever amount of time he is out, other guys will have to step up."

Maurice said Joe Morrow will replace Byfuglien in the lineup when they play the Edmonton Oilers on Monday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN3, NHL.TV).

Morrow has missed the past 15 games, eight because of a lower-body injury and seven as a healthy scratch.

"I've been watching a lot of hockey lately, obviously, and it helps to understand what's going on and what needs to be done with this team and how you fit in," Morrow said. "I just need to simplify things. The simpler you are out there when it's your first game back, the better you will be. That's kind of the whole mindset I have. Bring a lot of effort, bring a lot of skating and simple plays."

The Jets called up defenseman Sami Niku from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Monday.

Maurice said while it's a challenge to replace Byfuglien, it's a chance for other players to step up and showcase Winnipeg's depth.

"What you like about it if you get to the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], you've got a back end that understands 17-18 minutes of playoff hockey is heavy," Maurice said. "So we've got players stepping in. Coaches will always say it's the opportunity, they've got opportunity.

"That's a nice idea, but when you have players that are capable of carrying that opportunity, that's something that they're capable of, then you have a chance to survive. We're going to miss [Byfuglien], for sure, in almost every facet of your game. Size, physicality, offense, zone time. … But we've got other men that can each do a piece of what Dustin does. Maybe not the combined package, but they can all do a piece of it."

Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba echoed Maurice's comments.

"Every team deals with different injuries," Trouba said. "We've had some big pieces go down in the past and we seem to find a way to fill in, and with the way we play the game we have our identity and we have that to lean back on and play into."

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