The Winnipeg Jets will be without defenceman Dmitry Kulikov for the next two months.
Head coach Paul Maurice revealed on Tuesday that Kulikov will be out long term with an upper-body injury.
“Dmitry Kulikov is going to be out til around the all-star break,” Maurice told reporters.
Kulikov was injured in their victory over the Anaheim Ducks last Friday when he was hit hard into the glass by Ducks forward Carter Rowney in the first period.
The 29-year-old Winnipeg defender has one goal and three assists in 25 games this season.
“Dmitry for me, in the last five or six (games), playing the best hockey he’s played for us,” Maurice said. “And maybe going back further than that. He was really playing well, so that hurts.”
Kulikov’s injury leaves the Jets with only six healthy defencemen on their roster. Carl Dahlstrom dressed the last game in Kulikov’s absence, and the head coach doesn’t believe the change on the blueline will have far-reaching effects.
“You’ve got four of your defencemen that weren’t really in the league last year, so they’re wired coming to the games,” he said.
“They haven’t gotten to the casual point in their career where, hey, it’s just another night. So there’s an energy level off the back end, and then the style hasn’t changed.
“Style wise, the guys coming in are pretty similar to the guys that are coming out, so it doesn’t really effect how we feel with what we’re going to do with the puck.”
Three more of their injured players are getting closer to returning to the lineup though.
Forwards Mason Appleton and Gabriel Bourque, along with defenceman Nathan Beaulieu all practiced on Tuesday, and will accompany the team on their upcoming road trip.
But none of the three are expected to be ready to play on Thursday in Dallas.