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Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler is set to return to the lineup on Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wheeler suffered a ruptured testicle last month, which has kept him out of action.

Wheeler suffered the injury on Dec. 15 when he was inadvertently struck by a shot from Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey in a game against the Nashville Predators. The 36-year-old has missed the last nine games due to the injury.

 The Jets forward actually didn't even realize that he suffered a ruptured testicle on the night that the injury took place.

"There's a difference between being hurt and being injured," Wheeler said following the game against Nashville. "I didn't know I was injured until the next day."

Prior to the injury, Wheeler was having a strong season for Winnipeg. He currently has nine goals and 17 assists in 29 games over the 2022-23 campaign. 

Wheeler has been a member of the Jets since being traded to the then-Atlanta Thrashers by the Boston Bruins back in 2011. During his 15-year NHL career, the veteran forward has registered 255 goals and 528 assists in 1,075 games with the Bruins and Thrashers/Jets. 

In addition to Wheeler, the Jets are also slated to get forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Cole Perfetti, along with defenseman Nate Schmidt, back from injury for Friday's contest. In Wheeler's absence, the Jets have tallied a 5-4-0 record and currently sit just three points behind the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division.