“I’m making small steps in my recovery and hope to be back soon,” Fehr said in a phone interview this week. “I am a little disappointed I won’t be able to play on Thursday but at this point I can’t sacrifice my health for one game, no matter how much I’d like to play in it.”

Fehr, a former first-round draft pick of the Capitals in 2003, was traded to the Jets in early July in a move that allowed Washington to clear space under the salary cap. He’s expected to earn time among the top two lines in Winnipeg and garner more responsibility on the power play — roles that Fehr, who struggled for consistency as a Capital, didn’t see much in Washington, in part because of the considerable forward talent on the depth chart in front of him.

But unfortunately for Fehr, he has yet to play a game in the 2011-12 season as he works his way back from the surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder this past spring. It was the third shoulder surgery he’s had in his career. The 26-year-old, who spent 230 regular season games with the Capitals over the course of six seasons, is anxious to make a mark with his new team.

“I was prepared to start the year on IR in Washington,” Fehr explained. “But after the trade, I felt like I should have been healthier sooner. I wanted to be a part of the start of everything here with the Jets so it’s been a tough stretch.”

Fehr is optimistic he will be able to return to game action soon after being cleared for contact by doctors last week and was also removed from the injured reserve list. When the Capitals arrive in Winnipeg Wednesday evening, he’ll be hosting some of his former teammates and catching up with the close friends like Jeff Schultz, Karl Alzner — who said the Capitals are bringing Fehr’s old baseball glove that he left behind in Washington — John Carlson and Jason Chimera.

“It’s going to be a bit difficult to see the team,” Fehr said. “I spent all of my career there, until this year, and it’s tough, but it will be good to see everyone. I try to keep in touch with some of the guys as much as I can, I’m looking forward to seeing them.”