Hardman, a 23-year-old in his third NHL season, played in eight games with the Blackhawks on this recall, his first of the season. He failed to record a point in eight games and is still looking to score his first goal since the 2020-21 campaign.
A free agent signing out of Boston College in 2021, this year has been a trying one for Hardman. After promising offensive production last year with Rockford, his offense has regressed significantly. In 2022-23, Hardman has managed just four goals and 16 points in 49 games, down from 32 points in 43 games last season.
There’s still some development time left for Hardman, though, and he has one season remaining on his current contract. Set to become a restricted free agent in 2024, he returns to Rockford for the end of the season, looking to gain confidence for a big contract year next campaign.
Chicago returning Hardman to the minors could also be an indication that Jujhar Khaira, currently day-to-day with an illness, is ready to return.