The city of Chicago had a tough Tuesday night as both Bulls star Derrick Rose and Blackhawks leading scorer Patrick Kane got injured. Kane was place on the long-term injury reserve list on Wednesday morning, and we found out that Kane had surgery and is expected to miss 12 weeks. Now the Blackhawks needs to find someone to step up and try to replace Kane.
First of, there are fears that Kane will miss more time with his upper-body injury that he sustained against the Florida Panthers after being shoved from behind by Alex Petrovic. Kane lost his balance and went shoulder first into the boards, and got a fracture on his left clavicle. Kane had surgery on Wednesday and according to Dr. Michael Terry, Blackhawks head team physician, the procedure went well.
So what options are available to the Hawks as far as trying to replace Kane? Well, replace might be the wrong word as Kane is pretty much an irreplaceable player, but who can come in and at least try to cover the minutes and some of the scoring the Kane does. Let’s take a look at some possible candidates.
Teravainen is still trying to find his feet in the NHL, he was called up from Rockford of the AHL on Wednesday. He has four points (two goals and two assists) in 15 games with the Blackhawks this season. He’s been a bit more successful in the AHL, scoring 24 points in 39 games for the IceHogs. He gives the Blackhawks some flexibility as he play both center and wing, and he is the most likely option to replace Kane short-term. Teravainen is a highly skilled player and given top 6 minutes and line mates might just be the thing he needs in order to get his breakthrough.
Versteeg has some impressive numbers so far this season, scoring 13 goals and 18 assists in 41 games. He’s got three goals in the last five games, and he could be another option for the Hawks if they feel like Teravainen isn’t ready to take on that big role. Versteeg has been playing on the third line the past week as coach Joel Quenneville has been shaking up the lines after some poor performances. Versteeg moved up to the second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Sharp after Kane went off injured.
Kane is going to miss the rest of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, so in theory the Blackhawks could go after a replacement on the trade market as they have about $6 million in cap space available with Kane gone. And, since cap space doesn’t count in the playoffs, it would be a potential high reward situation if the Hawks brought someone in. Now that they know that Kane will be out until way into the playoffs, I think they should strongly consider bringing someone in through a trade.
Possible targets include Antoine Vermette of the Arizona Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres’ Chris Stewart. The ‘Hawks could also opt to bring in a defenseman to secure things on the blue line as Johnny Oduya has been sub-par this season and is currently injured. Stewart might be too streaky and Vermette should play center.
If the Blackhawks do add a guy like Stewart or Vermette before the trade deadline, it would fill part of the void short term, and when Kane is back it would mean that the Hawks would have even greater depth.