While the most notable injury concern for Chicago is and will continue to be goaltender Corey Crawford, the struggling Blackhawks made other health-related transactions today. The team announced that defenseman Cody Franson, out since early December with an upper-body injury, has been activated and, in a corresponding move, forward Artem Anisimov has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body issue of his own. While Franson will be a welcome addition to the blue line, the long-term loss of Anisimov will be felt much more. The Blackhawks have struggled on offense this season; they are a middling team in goal-scoring and one of the league’s worst power play producers. Forward depth, particularly down the middle, has been a cause for concern and that was prior to Anisimov’s absence. Although ten points behind the Nashville Predators in the Central Division, Chicago is not that far out from the Western playoff picture. However, that could change if the extended sidelining of Anisimov leads to even greater issues on offense on top of the already serious situation in net.
- Although severely strapped for cap space, the Blackhawks are certainly looking around for ways to bring some depth into the fold. One option that can be cast aside for now is veteran Arizona Coyotes winger Brad Richardson. CapFriendly reports that Richardson has been placed on injured reserve after he was forced out of the ’Yotes game against the Colorado Avalanche last Saturday with an upper-body injury. As the worst team in the NHL currently, Arizona is surely welcoming offers for their impending unrestricted free agents (and then some). It’s not a long list of soon-to-be-departing players, but the useful, two-way forward Richardson is at the top. His injury history could definitely scare away some suitors though and the Coyotes may have a tough time moving him until he has returned to full strength following his stay on IR.
- There’s finally an update on the condition of Michael Frolik after the dependable forward took a shot to the face early in Calgary’s game against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, but it’s not what Flames fans were hoping to hear. Frolik left the game and did not return and, as it turns out, the shot fractured his jaw and knocked out several teeth. While he has yet to be formally placed on the injured reserve, head coach Glen Gulutzan opined that Frolik was “week-to-week” with no time table for a return. Frolik’s absence will have major repercussions on the lineup, not only due to the underrated winger’s ability, but also the team’s dire lack of right wingers. The forward lines are set to undergo major changes until Frolik is healthy enough to return to action.