The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly working with local doctors to see if Connor Bedard can make a surprise return to the lineup on Thursday night, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. This return would come well ahead of expectations, with head coach Luke Richardson previously stating his hope was for Bedard to return next week. To say Bedard’s return would be impactful is an understatement. The 18-year-old rookie phenom still leads the team in scoring despite missing their last 14 games. The Blackhawks have been abysmal in his absence, going 3-10-1. This includes a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1) that the Hawks currently find themselves on, with the team netting just eight goals over the stretch.
Adding back their top scorer, the most recent first-overall selection, and the highest-acclaimed prospect since Connor McDavid will bring a breath of fresh air to a desperate Chicago lineup. Bedard has 15 goals and 33 points in 39 games this season, on pace for 70 points in his rookie season. That would be the most a Chicago rookie has scored since Artemi Panarin managed 30 goals and 77 points in 80 games during the 2015-16 season.
Other notes from around the league:
New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek has recovered from an illness that held him out of Tuesday’s game. But head coach Lindy Ruff shares that he is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury, and will continue to be unavailable. Ruff shared that Vanecek will miss the next two games, including New Jersey’s Stadium Series matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers. New Jersey is expected to turn towards Nico Daws in Vanecek’s absence.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tanner Jeannot has been designated as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, per team reporter Eduardo A. Encina with the Tampa Bay Times. Jeannot made his return on Tuesday from a lower-body injury that held him out of the team’s last 12 games. Encina adds that head coach Jon Cooper is hoping Jeannot’s new injury won’t be long-term as well. Jeannot has appeared in 42 games when healthy this season, scoring 12 points, split evenly.