The Winnipeg Jets will be without Bryan Little for at least the immediate future as head coach Paul Maurice announced the Jets second line centre will be out with a lower body injury with no timetable set for his return.
awful first 2 days of season with Quick out months (groin), Kane (busted ribs), Bryan Little (indefinitely), Eichel (ankle) hurt in practice
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) October 14, 2016
This is a tough blow for not only the Winnipeg Jets, but especially for Little. Last night’s game marked Little’s first regular season game since he went down with a neck injury last February. Little has been one of the Jets most consistent players over the last five seasons and losing him in the top six is quite the loss, especially so early in the year.
No surgery required for Bryan Little says coach Paul Maurice. #NHLJets
— Illegal Curve Hockey (@IllegalCurve) October 14, 2016
What do the Jets do now?
While losing Bryan Little may hinder the Jets performance, Winnipeg is lucky they have such organizational depth, including many talented prospects across the hallway with the Manitoba Moose.
The Little injury likely means that the line of Kyle Connor, Mathieu Perreault and Patrik Laine will emerge in to the team’s second line and that leaves the team’s third line centre spot up for grabs.
The logical move that will likely occur is having the Jets promote from within and bump up Adam Lowry to the 3rd line centre role. Lowry looked solid in the Jets season debut and this promotion could help him have the bounce back year that he needs. Alex Burmistrov also could sub in from the press box and man the fourth or third line centre role.
But what about calling up Andrew Copp?
Copp suited up for 77 games with the Jets last year but despite that he found himself becoming a training camp casualty and was sent to the Manitoba Moose to start out the season. Copp may not even get to suit up for the Moose to start the year out as the Jets may bring him back up to return to his role as the Jets fourth line centre.
If the Jets promote Lowry to the team’s third line centre spot and are looking to call up someone for the fourth line spot, there is no better option than Andrew Copp. Copp’s defensively sound game along with his penalty killing and face-off ability fits nicely on the team’s fourth line.
If the Jets want to reward a centre that impressed them during training camp, they could go with the non-traditional move of giving Nic Petan or Chase De Leo a shot in the big leagues. Both undersized forwards impressed during training camp and were knocking on the door for spots. With their simply being no room for either forward when training camp was being made, the Jets could elect to give one of them a shot now.
Whomever the Jets re-call and whatever shuffling they do, when Little does return, he could shift over to right wing. Little played right wing for a majority of his time with the Atlanta Thrashers and with the Jets right wing depth not as strong, Little could return to the right wing if his understudy impresses.
Most of this is speculation, but many possibilities are up in the air with the Little injury.
What do you think the Jets should do? Let us know on twitter: @NHLJetsNation