A career year by Winnipeg Jets’ speedy forward Nikolaj Ehlers is over, at least for the remainder of the NHL’s regular season.
Head coach Paul Maurice broke the news to reporters on Monday after Ehlers’ absence on the ice for the team’s morning practice became the first question at the post-skate scrum.
“We’re confident and hopeful he’ll be back for the start of the playoffs,” Maurice said.
The 25-year-old winger was involved in a few collisions in Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, including a solid one involving a much larger Leafs’ defenceman Jake Muzzin.
Maurice said he can’t pinpoint the injury to any particular hit.
“I don’t know that I can nail it to one,” he said, praising Ehler’s perseverance and grit.
“He finished the game. He’s a tough young man.”
Asked what kind of blow the injury delivers to the team, Maurice said it’s definitely a challenge.
“Nikky’s been fantastic this year. So we’re going to miss that,” he said. “And not just the goal scoring. He’s been pretty darn dynamic for our team.”
With Ehlers collecting 21 goals and 25 assists in 46 games this season, he was having one of his best years. His highest point-scoring season came over the course of 82 games in 2016-17, when he scored 25 goals and 39 assists.
He’s also on pace to become the NHL’s highest-ever scoring Danish-born player.
Ehlers is currently in fourth spot on the chart, just 12 points behind Lars Eller, and 24 points behind Mikkel Boedker. Both of those players have been in the NHL for seven more years than Ehlers.
Meanwhile, Jets’ centreman Adam Lowry, who missed Saturday’s game due to concussion-like symptoms, took to the ice Monday in a non-contact jersey after most players finished their practice.
Lowry was hurt in Thursday’s loss to the Leafs after a high hit from forward Alex Galchenyuk.
Maurice called Lowry’s progress “all positive motion” but the real test will come when he gets “out of the gold outfit and back into a regular sweater and get bumping.”
Maurice is hopeful that will happen in a few days “but with all of these neck and head-related things, we’re just going to be so careful.”