Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler is out indefinitely due to a suspected concussion. Jets head coach Paul Maurice informed the media of Wheeler’s status on Wednesday afternoon.
Blake Wheeler Out With Concussion
Blake Wheeler is out indefinitely until more is known. Will not travel with the Jets out East. Paul Maurice says they're investigating a possible concussion.
— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) April 7, 2021
Wheeler suffered the injury towards the end of the second period of Winnipeg’s 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Pursuing the puck along the boards, the Jets winger was beaten to it by Brady Tkachuk, who then swivelled and caught him in the head as he skated past. The referees assessed Tkachuk with a two-minute minor for elbowing on the play.
Brady Tkachuk took another penalty for an elbow on Blake Wheeler. A rare undisciplined game for him.
— Brandon Maki (@BrandonMaki_) April 6, 2021
As a result, the Jets will now be without their captain for their upcoming five-game road trip at the very least. In the meantime, the medical staff will continue to run tests on Wheeler to assess his condition.
Astonishingly, it will be the first time in three years that Wheeler misses a regular-season game. Since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13, he has missed just four games.
What This Means Going Forward
Given the unpredictability of head injuries, the Jets are in a tricky position as to what to do at the Trade Deadline. Although, placing Wheeler on Long Term Injured Reserve would provide the opportunity to utilize cap relief in order to make a deadline splash.
Before Wheeler went down, Winnipeg was in desperate need of a defenceman. But this injury now potentially adds to the shopping list before April 12th.
In terms of the immediate roster implications, the equation is much simpler. Murat Ates, the Jets beat reporter for The Athletic has already provided an insight into how Wheeler’s absence shakes up the lines moving forward. He noted that the Jets were practicing with Copp in the captain’s position on the second line. Meanwhile, Jansen Harkins gets the call up for fourth-line duties. Harkins hasn’t played a game for the Jets since February 19th.
This opportunity affords him another chance to make an impression after a few NHL spells which weren’t so fruitful. In 12 games this season, he has won nine of his 16 faceoffs and averaged only 7:58 of ice time; he has yet to register a point. After 41 career NHL games, Harkins has two goals and seven points in total.
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