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Jets' Trouba out until February with upper-body injury

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba will be out until February with an upper-body injury, coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday.

Trouba, 20, has four goals and 12 points in 31 games in his second NHL season. The ninth pick in the 2012 NHL Draft had 10 goals and 29 points in 65 games as a rookie.

Trouba joins Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom, each of whom are on injured reserve with lower-body injuries, as Jets defensemen out of the lineup.

Trouba did not practice Monday, but the news came as a surprise as Maurice had said Monday that Trouba was “probable” for Tuesday when the Jets host the Buffalo Sabres at MTS Centre.

“What you [were] hopeful for [was] that it heals and gets better and that it progresses,” Maurice said. “He had the opposite experience. Things started to get progressively a little worse on him. It just got to the point that the only and best way for us to get him back to 100 percent is that we have to shut him down.”

Trouba ranks second to Enstrom among Winnipeg players this season with an average ice time of 23:33, and he plays a major role for the Winnipeg power play and penalty kill.

“It is a big challenge and maybe not just in the areas that you would think,” Maurice said. “Jacob has been a part of some big goals late in games, and he drives the offense and has been part of a power-play unit that was getting better.”

“But I think it's more of a defensive concern, with the three guys out,” Maurice said. “All three kill penalties for us, so we need to get better in that department. Our margin for error gets a little bit thinner there.”

Trouba’s injury will lead to speculation that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will look to acquire a defenseman.

"That's his department, what’s out there,” Maurice said. “Defensemen are just hard to find and we all know that. It's difficult to fill those holes. We've got six NHL guys, we believe in our lineup. We're good enough on our backend to survive at least and we expect to do more than that.”

In the meantime, Maurice said that his players will need to adjust and adopt a more cautious approach with breakouts and puck support for the defensemen.

“We're going to have to grind a few of these things out along the wall a little more and be comfortable doing it,” Maurice said.

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