Jets lose Byfuglien likely through January with lower-body injury

The NHL Western Conference-leading Winnipeg Jets will be minus top-scoring defenceman Dustin Byfuglien for at least a month. The good news is he doesn't need surgery.

Byfuglien exited Saturday's 3-1 loss to Minnesota midway through the third period with an apparent left leg injury after colliding awkwardly with Wild forward Luke Kunin.

Watch Byfuglien's collision with Kunin:

The Jets top-scoring defenceman injured his left leg after colliding with Wild forward Luke Kunin in Saturday's 3-1 loss to Minnesota. 0:26
Byfuglien was helped off the ice in Winnipeg by teammates and a trainer and needed assistance down the tunnel before he was examined further.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice wouldn't specify if the injury was to Byfuglien's ankle or knee.

The 33-year-old Byfuglien, who leads all Winnipeg blue-liners with 29 points on four goals and 25 assists, could return after the Jan. 25-26 NHL all-star break.


"That would be the very earliest part of the window. … I don't know what it's going to look like in two to three weeks," Maurice said.

“Obviously it’s tough to lose [Byfuglien] at any time,” Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey told reporters. “He’s having an unbelievable season; he might be playing the best hockey he ever has for us and in the NHL.”

The 24-12-2 Jets have played without Byfuglien for stretches before, with the veteran missing two games with an upper-body injury in October and four a month ago with a concussion.


Defenceman Joe Morrow will suit up for the first tie since Nov. 27 on Monday at Edmonton after sitting out as a healthy scratch for seven consecutive games and eight more while injured.

Top defence prospect Sami Niku might also be recalled from the Manitoba Moose, the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate. The 22-year-old native of Finland played five games for Winnipeg in November but failed to collect a point.

Fellow rearguard Tyler Myers had a maintenance day Sunday and missed practice but is expected to play Monday.

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