It has been a busy day for Chicago. After shipping Brandon Hagel along with a pair of fourth-round picks to Tampa Bay for two future top-ten protected first-rounders plus wingers Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, the team announced that they’ve placed defenseman Connor Murphy on long-term injured reserve and center Tyler Johnson on injured reserve.
Murphy was stretchered off the ice on Saturday after taking a hit from Ottawa’s Parker Kelly and it’s no surprise that the placement has been back-dated to Saturday. He’ll have to miss at least 10 games and 24 days from there which means he wouldn’t be able to return until April 7th at the earliest. With it being a concussion and the fact that the Blackhawks are well out of playoff contention, it’s possible that they simply shut him down for the rest of the season.
Doing so would effectively allow Chicago to add all of Murphy’s $3.85MM AAV to their LTIR pool and give them that much extra room to work with by Monday’s trade deadline. With several buyers having limited cap space, a bit more flexibility for the Blackhawks to work with could certainly be useful for GM Kyle Davidson.
As for Johnson, his placement is also retroactive to March 12th and with him just being on regular IR, he’s technically eligible to return as soon as Sunday against Winnipeg. However, that won’t be the case. Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago notes that Johnson only resumed skating on Thursday and while interim coach Derek King noted that the veteran will need to go through the various stages of concussion protocol, he should be able to return sooner than later.