He proclaimed himself fit and ready to play.

But even as Winnipeg Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien made his long-awaited return to the practice ice at the MTS Centre Friday, he also had to concede a lower body injury that caused him to miss most of training camp has meant he hasn't had a chance to prepare the way he'd hoped to for a season that will see him transition from a defenceman to an almost full-time forward.

"It's never easy to jump in and go and just have chemistry right off the hop," Byfuglien said Friday.

"And I think it's kind of a big thing to go into a season not playing forward a lot. And getting some chemistry with a line would have been good, but we're going to have to go the other route."

Jets head coach Paul Maurice has big plans for Byfuglien as a forward on a top-six line with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd, but he repeated Friday those plans have been placed on hold because of how little Byfuglien has played and practiced in camp.

"It's tougher to come into top-six minutes if you've been out of the lineup a long time," said Maurice. "You've got to have a real strong comfort level with your top-six."

Byfuglien played just one game in the pre-season before he got hurt and that will not change tonight when the Jets play their final pre-season game against the Calgary Flames at the MTS Centre.