CHICAGO—A season that hasn’t gone as hoped took another unfortunate turn when the Blackhawks announced defencemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan will each have surgery Friday and miss the rest of the season.
De Haan’s situation wasn’t unexpected. He injured his right shoulder Dec. 10, and the Hawks had said he was getting more medical opinions before deciding how to proceed.
He had surgery on the same shoulder last spring and missed the start of this season.
The news about Seabrook was more of a surprise and potentially more severe. The Hawks said Seabrook will have surgery on his right shoulder Friday and also will have surgery on each hip, in January for the right side and in early February for the left.
Additionally, the Hawks said Brandon Saad will miss three weeks with a right ankle injury he suffered Dec. 19 against the Jets.
Seabrook’s journey from being a healthy scratch on Dec. 18 to having season-ending shoulder surgery without playing in a game appears curious. But considering he has rarely missed a game in his career, it’s likely Seabrook was playing through a lot of pain.
Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton cited “nagging injuries” as the reason Seabrook didn’t make the trip to Winnipeg to play the Jets last week. He has been one of the NHL’s most durable players since 2005-06, having played in 1,114 of a possible 1,150 regular-season games (96.9 per cent) before the Jets game.
Putting Seabrook and de Haan on long-term injured reserve immediately provides the Hawks with more than $11 million (U.S.) in salary-cap relief that would allow them to add high-priced replacements. With Drake Caggiula and Andrew Shaw also on long-term injured reserve while out with concussions, the Hawks have nearly $13 million in available cap space, according to Capfriendly.
But with the Hawks near the bottom of the Western Conference standings and not flush with prospects as trade bait, general manager Stan Bowman might pass on the opportunity. He has a little less than two months before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to decide if he will try to acquire veterans for a playoff push.
It’s too early to know what this could mean for Seabrook’s long-term status. He’ll be 35 in April and has four seasons left on a contract extension he signed in 2016 that carries a $6.875-million cap hit.
The Hawks can get by with carrying Seabrook’s cap hit — and might have no choice if he’s healthy after the surgeries — but he might no longer have a spot in the lineup when he’s healthy.
Veterans Duncan Keith, Olli Maatta, Connor Murphy and de Haan are under contract at least through 2021-22, and rookies Dennis Gilbert and Adam Boqvist appear to be part of the Hawks’ future.
Whether Seabrook will be part of it remains to be seen.
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