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Laine played most of season for Jets with back injury

Forward also had groin issue against Blues during playoffs, pending RFA not worried about contract

by Scott Billeck / Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Patrik Laine played with a back injury for most of the season, and a groin injury hindered him during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets forward said Monday.

Laine had four points (three goals, one assist) in six playoff games for the Jets, who were eliminated in the Western Conference First Round with a 3-2 loss in Game 6 at the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

"Nothing I couldn't handle," Laine said as the Jets held their exit meetings at Bell MTS Place.

Laine said he has had back issues since last season. He said they prevented him from skating prior to games during the playoffs last season and that the same thing happened during the series with the Blues.

He said neither injury will require surgery.

"I think I've worked on it (his back) a lot over the past couple of years but it just seems like it always comes back," Laine said. "Just don't know why. Just trying to still take good care of it and there's a long summer, so hopefully get a good recovery on that too. Hopefully it's not going to be painful next season."

Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Trouba, Laine connect to put Jets ahead

Laine had 21 goals on Dec. 1, including 18 in 12 games in November. But he scored nine more in the final 57 regular-season games and finished with 30 goals, 14 fewer than the 44 he scored last season.

"It's not an excuse for me," he said. "I was still able to play and I was able to play good."

The 21-year-old can become a restricted free agent July 1, but Laine said he isn't worried about his contract status.

"Right now I want to forget everything that is involved with hockey," he said. "After this kind of season, I don't want to think about it. It ended way too early."

Laine was one of several Jets players playing through injuries during the playoffs.

Forward Nikolaj Ehlers played Game 6 after fracturing his leg in the third period of Game 5 when he blocked a shot by Blues defenseman Colton Parayko.

"It did not feel great," Ehlers said of playing on the injured leg. "We tried a lot of things to make it feel a lot better, and it definitely did get a little better. For me, it's part of it. Everyone's playing with some injuries. I didn't want to sit out. I wanted to play. I wanted to help this team."

Ehlers said the injury won't require surgery.

Video: Blues oust Jets in six games, advance to Second Round

Forward Brandon Tanev had surgery to repair a broken finger a couple of days before the playoffs began. The injury occurred when he was slashed during a game against the Minnesota Wild on April 2. He missed the final two regular-season games and Game 1 against the Blues.

"At the end of the day, it's the playoffs," Tanev said. "You've got to go out there and try to do your best for your team.

"I wanted to get back into the lineup … that was the necessary actions for me to get back in that situation."

Tanev, who had 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 80 regular-season games, then two points (one goal, one assist) in five playoff games, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"That's not [my] thought right now," he said. "The season didn't end the way I wanted it to. You're looking to have another long playoff run. It's a little frustrating … an unfortunate stop to the season."

In addition to Laine, forwards Kyle Connor and Andrew Copp, defensemen Jacob Trouba, Joe Morrow and Nathan Beaulieu, and goalie Laurent Brossoit each can become a restricted free agent July 1.

Besides Tanev, forwards Kevin Hayes, Par Lindholm and Matt Hendricks, and defensemen Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot each can become n unrestricted free agent.

"Is the team going to be the same?" Jets general manager Kevin Chevaldayoff said. "I could stand here last year with greater certainty that there was going to be a lot of pieces that we're going to do our darnedest to keep and [have] come back, and even then we couldn't do it all then. This year there's certainly going to be some changes."

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