Sep 19: The Blackhawks issued an update on Murphy’s status, indicating that he will be off the ice for the next six weeks and is looking at somewhere between eight and twelve weeks before actually getting back into the lineup. That confirms that the Blackhawks will be without him for a good chunk of the season, and will need to find someone else to step up on the blue line.
Sep 14: The Chicago Blackhawks have question marks all through their group of defenseman, and got another one today when it was announced that Connor Murphy will miss the next eight weeks with a back injury. Murphy was locked into a role with the team heading into camp, but will have to sit out well into November as it turns out. The team also announced that Brent Seabrook will miss a week with an abdominal injury, and Gustav Forsling continues to work his way back from wrist surgery.
After a down year from Seabrook and Duncan Keith, Chicago is coming into the season without a real obvious plan on the blue line. Murphy’s injury will only complicate things and could lead the Blackhawks to bringing along a young player like Henri Jokiharju for the first part of the season. Jokiharju, Chicago’s first round pick from 2017, had an outstanding 2017-18 season with the Portland Winterhawks and could be ready for NHL competition even at the tender age of 19. The Finnish defenseman has shown an incredible ability to move the puck under pressure and could quickly become the primary option for the Blackhawks on the powerplay.
Still, that’s a lot to ask of a teenager at this point, especially given the pressure that is on the Blackhawks to perform this season. After a down year the team is still stuck in contract purgatory given their huge commitments to Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Seabrook and Keith, and needs to find a way back into the playoffs immediately. There’s no rebuild happening in Chicago, though the organization does have several interesting young names who will play a big role up front this season. Jokiharju, or whoever is given an opportunity in Murphy’s absence, will be asked to shoulder a lot of responsibility right away.