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Jonathan Drouin, a forward for the Avalanche, will not play in the series against the Winnipeg Jets due to a lower body injury

Jonathan Drouin (27) of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Ball Arena in Denver on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

The Colorado Avalanche will start their quest for a second Stanley Cup win in three years without a significant player in the lineup.

The Colorado Avalanche will start their journey for a second Stanley Cup win in three years without a key player.

Jonathan Drouin, who had a remarkable comeback in the NHL season, will be absent in the first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets due to a lower-body injury. The Avs announced this on Saturday, with Game 1 scheduled for Sunday night at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg.

Drouin achieved a career-high of 56 points this season after signing a low-cost one-year contract in the previous offseason to re-establish his value in the league. The decision turned out well for both sides during the regular season, but Drouin got injured during Game No. 82 against the Edmonton Oilers and had to leave during the second period.

After a disappointing six years with the Montreal Canadiens, Drouin joined the Avalanche in the previous offseason and reunited with former junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon. Drouin's season started slowly with one point in 10 games and a healthy scratch, but he later became one of Jared Bednar's most reliable two-way forwards.

Drouin became a key player on the top power-play unit and spent a significant part of the season playing alongside MacKinnon on the top line. He has been nominated by the Denver chapter of the PHWA for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to someone who demonstrates dedication to hockey, perseverance, and sportsmanship.

The Avalanche had a fully fit forward lineup going into Game 82. However, defenseman Samuel Girard was absent from the last two regular season games due to being in concussion protocol.

As a reminder, Bednar recently mentioned that captain Gabe Landeskog is not close to returning. Although he has been skating on his own, he has not practiced with the team. The timeline for Landeskog's injury is 12-16 months, and Bednar stated that his captain will not play before that. The earliest possible return for Landeskog is mid-May.

If the Avs require another forward at any point, an interesting option is Nikolai Kovalenko, who had a successful season in the KHL and is expected to play his third AHL game Saturday night for the Colorado Eagles.

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