The Chicago Blackhawks have several interesting defensive prospects pushing for spots on the NHL roster, including Gustav Forsling who impressed in 41 games last season. Unfortunately, Forsling looks like he’ll be unable to crack the team out of camp given that he underwent surgery on his right wrist today. The 22-year old defenseman is expected to be out for 14 weeks, putting his return into the early part of November and well into the season.
Forsling was just a fifth-round pick in 2014 by the Vancouver Canucks, but has developed into a legitimate top-four option for the Blackhawks with big upside left in his offensive game. Though he recorded just 13 points last season, he shows obvious talent with the puck and potential to eventually quarterback a top powerplay. While that’s the ceiling for Forsling, even just becoming a full-time player for Chicago after being acquired for Adam Clendening (who eventually returned to the Blackhawks organization last season and is now in Columbus) will be a huge win.
A position battle was brewing for the Blackhawks as training camp approaches, but now that Forsling has been ruled out we may have some clarity to who will be on the ice on opening night. Henri Jokiharju could still surprise and force his way onto the roster, but it looks like barring any sort of trade Erik Gustafsson’s spot is secure. The loss of Forsling does only magnify the lack of depth the team may have on the blue line this year though, as if Jokiharju and Adam Boqvist are sent back to their respective leagues the team doesn’t have a lot of NHL-ready talent to step in. Should Chicago suffer another injury, there’s no telling where they might turn for help.