The Chicago Blackhawks have announced that forward Taylor Hall will miss the rest of the season, as he will undergo surgery on his right knee. The Blackhawks have also announced that forward Andreas Athanasiou has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to November 9th. In a corresponding move, the team recalled forwards Cole Guttman and Joey Anderson from their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.
Hall, who is under contract for another season at a $6MM cap hit, has not played since the team’s November 19th loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Hall’s knee injury likely comes from an ugly collision on the boards that he had with Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mikey Eyssimont. He left the ice immediately after favoring one leg, and although there is no official confirmation it appears that the collision and the injury it caused is what has ended Hall’s season.
Although it is certain now that Hall will not return to the ice for Chicago this season, his absence is far from assured for next season.
With another year left on his contract, Hall still has a future with the Blackhawks and could very well return to game action with the team next season.
But even though Chicago does not figure to be a playoff contender this season, this loss is still a major one for the Blackhawks and a significant setback for Hall.
From Hall’s perspective, this injury costs him a year he would have likely spent as one of his team’s most heavily used forwards. After a few years spent playing a more secondary role on the Boston Bruins, Hall was poised to be a true offensive centerpiece of this Blackhawks team next to rookie sensation Connor Bedard.
Hall is now quite a bit removed from his Hart Trophy-winning 93-point campaign, so this year represented what may have been his best chance since he was on the Devils at posting high point totals.
He hadn’t posted elite numbers so far in his short time with Chicago, scoring four points in 10 games, but there was hope that with injury issues behind him and some more time to build chemistry with players such as Bedard, the points would follow.
Now, Hall won’t get that chance for the rest of the season, and it’s fair to question how ready he’ll be to hit the ground running whenever he’s fully healed due to the fact that he’ll have gone quite a few months without playing.
In addition to being a major setback for Hall, this injury is unfortunate news for the Blackhawks as well. The team acquired Hall with the hopes that he’d serve as a key asset to Bedard, the kind of veteran player who was once a highly-touted top prospect and could help guide Bedard as the 2023 top pick navigates the trials and tribulations of his rookie year.
While Hall will still be able to be around the team off the ice, the on-ice component of the Bedard-Hall connection has now been at least temporarily severed.
Although Guttman and Anderson would undoubtedly prefer to be recalled under different circumstances, the injuries that hit Athanasiou and Hall provide them with a valuable opportunity at the NHL level.
Guttman, 24, began the season with the Blackhawks but was quickly sent down after consecutive losses. He’s since scored nine points in 12 AHL games, and this recall will give him another chance to translate his impressive NCAA and AHL scoring numbers to the NHL.
Anderson, 25, has not had the chance to play in the NHL this season. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth forward got into 24 NHL games last season but only managed six points. He’s been the IceHogs’ top scorer so far this year with 16 points in 14 games, and now this recall will give him the chance to take a meaningful step forward at the NHL level that he so far has been unable to do on a consistent basis.
But while these injuries provide opportunities to players on the NHL-AHL bubble, all parties involved (including those players) would likely prefer if Hall and Athanasiou were healthy. That’s unfortunately not the case right now, and the Blackhawks will have to move forward with two key scoring options out of commission.
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