Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele will be out 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury.
Scheifele was injured during the second period of a 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. He was hit by Oilers defenseman Brandon Davidson and fell awkwardly into the boards.
"It's a huge hole; [he's] one of the best in the game and a huge part of what we do," Jets captain Blake Wheeler said Thursday. "He's really developed into a leader around our team … it's a big void. Everyone is going to have to step up a little bit, pull together as a team so we don't miss him too much."
Scheifele, who was placed on injured reserve, has 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) in 38 games, second on the Jets behind Wheeler's 42 points (nine goals, 33 assists). The 24-year-old was seventh in the NHL with 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 79 games last season.
Video: EDM@WPG: Scheifele leaves in 2nd with injury
Coach Paul Maurice said the Jets will miss Scheifele in several key areas.
"The big one: 5-on-5, matched head-to-head, and then power play, clearly," Maurice said.
Wheeler will step into Scheifele's spot at center, with right wing Patrik Laine promoted to the top line. Mathieu Perreault moves from the fourth line to the second line, replacing Laine.
"He's done it before," Maurice said of Wheeler playing center. "It's something that we talked about for the last couple of years. He's played center; that was his position he came into the National Hockey League at. He's got quite a bit of experience there. He did a good job with it when Mark has been hurt (last season)."
Maurice said the Jets don't plan to recall a forward from Manitoba of the American Hockey League. Forwards Shawn Matthias and Marko Dano have been healthy scratches for the Jets recently.
"We've got NHL guys here right now," Maurice said.
Wheeler said the Jets are going to have to fight through the adversity, beginning Friday when they host the New York Islanders (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, MSG+2, NHL.TV).
"It's going to be one of those things where it may not look as pretty, we may not be quite as dangerous as we are used to being, but there's still a lot of fight in our group, still a lot of capable bodies in the room to get a job done," Wheeler said. "That's the key for us. We want to keep this thing afloat so that when Mark comes back, we'll be even stronger for it."