The Chicago Blackhawks will roll out a new look forward corps when they next take the ice on Monday. The team has announced that rookie Reese Johnson has been placed on injured reserve while fellow rookie Mike Hardman has been reassigned to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Taking their place on the roster will be veteran Brett Connolly and another rookie, Mackenzie Entwistle.
The news on Johnson is a disappointing development for the Blackhawks. It may not show on the scoresheet, but the 23-year-old has been playing well of late, even in his limited role. The team reports that Johnson suffered a fractured right clavicle on Saturday and is out indefinitely. Johnson will undergo further evaluation on Monday, after which the Blackhawks hope to have a more timeline for his return this season.
In the meantime, the Blackhawks could do far worse than bringing in the experienced Connolly. Acquired from the Florida Panthers last season, Connolly played in ten games with Chicago down the stretch but failed to make the team in training camp this year and was buried in the AHL. He has made the most of his time in Rockford, currently second on the team in scoring with 11 points in 16 games. While Connolly may not be the 20-goal threat he once was, the physical winger can still contribute in Chicago.
As for the swap in rookies, Entwistle has done more with his opportunity than Hardman this season. Though a top college free agent who got off to a hot start to his pro career last year with three points in eight NHL games, Hardman has only managed two assists in 19 games with the Blackhawks so far this season. In contrast, Entwistle has three points in 12 games, including a pair of goals.