The worst has been made official for this Chicago Blackhawk

Published January 20, 2024 at 8:18 PM
BY SKY
     
The Chicago Blackhawks face a setback as defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is placed on Injured Reserve (IR) due to a right knee injury, as reported by Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago. To fill the void on the active roster, Louis Crevier has been recalled from AHL Rockford.

Zaitsev's last game saw him logging 8:46 minutes in a shootout win against the Sharks before exiting the game with the injury. The 32-year-old had been a consistent presence in the lineup, playing in all eight Blackhawks games since the beginning of the year, following a brief absence in 2023 due to illness.

Initially serving as a healthy scratch, Zaitsev assumed a more regular role in the lineup last month due to injuries plaguing the Blackhawks across various positions. While the defense recently saw the return of Seth Jones, veteran Connor Murphy is now listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Zaitsev becomes the sole Blackhawks defender on IR, joining a significant list of eight forwards, several of whom would typically be in the top six if not for injuries.

Zaitsev's contract, set to conclude next summer with a seven-year, $31.5 million deal, has been somewhat more valuable this season, particularly in offensive zone starts. In 26 games, he has contributed 2 goals and 5 assists, forming a notable partnership with rookie Kevin Korchinski. This pairing has showcased the best possession control for the Blackhawks, boasting a 46.9% expected goals share, according to MoneyPuck. Notably, Korchinski's defensive performance has notably improved alongside Zaitsev compared to his pairings with Jones or Murphy.


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The worst has been made official for this Chicago Blackhawk

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