The Blackhawks welcomed one center back tonight but found themselves without another. The team announced (Twitter link) that Tyler Johnson has been cleared from concussion protocol and activated off IR while Kirby Dach was a late scratch with a non-COVID illness. It has been a tough first season in Chicago for Johnson after coming over from Tampa Bay as injuries have limited him to just 14 games where he has just a goal and two assists while averaging a career low in ice time at just 12:41 per night. As for Dach, he has also had a quiet year offensively, notching 23 points in 63 games despite being a fixture in their top six.
Elsewhere around the Western Conference:
- The wait is over when it comes to Artturi Lehkonen making his Colorado debut as the team announced (Twitter link) that the winger’s immigration has been approved, paving the way for him to suit up against Calgary on Tuesday. The 26-year-old was brought in at the trade deadline in exchange for prospect defenseman Justin Barron and a 2024 second-round pick and he’s expected to play a key role on the third line for the Avalanche down the stretch. Lehkonen has 16 goals and 13 assists in 58 games this season.
- The Sharks could get winger Kevin Labanc back at some point next week, notes Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News. The 26-year-old has been out since undergoing shoulder surgery back in mid-November. It had been a disappointing season for Labanc prior to the injury as he had just three goals and three assists in 21 games and with San Jose ten points out of a playoff spot heading into Monday’s games, his return will be more about trying to rediscover his offensive form over helping a late playoff push.
- Matthew Highmore’s upper-body injury will keep him out of Vancouver’s lineup on a week-to-week basis, relays Brendan Batchelor of Sportsnet 650 (Twitter link). The 26-year-old has 10 points in 39 games this season. The Canucks recalled William Lockwood on an emergency basis last week to take Highmore’s spot but if they wanted to bring another player up for extra depth, they’d have to use one of their four post-deadline regular recalls.