Defenseman Gustav Forsling, 22, underwent surgery on his right wrist on Tuesday, Blackhawks physician Michael Terry announced. He’s expected to be out for at least 14 weeks.
Forsling, who posted three goals and 10 assists in 41 games with the Hawks last season, should be back by early November. That means competition for the Hawks’ blue line just opened up entering training camp in September.
Henri Jokiharju was already viewed as a contender for a roster spot this fall, but with Forsling being sidelined, it appears the 19-year-old defenseman’s chances got even better.
Along with Forsling, Jokiharju’s biggest competition to break camp with the team will likely come from Carl Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson, Blake Hillman and Dennis Gilbert. It may help the rookie that he plays the right side, where Brent Seabrook, Connor Murphy and Jan Rutta are slotted in right now.
Jokiharju previously told the Sun-Times that he believes he could play for the Hawks next season.
“You want to dream big, and you don’t want to set the bar too low,” Jokiharju said. “I think it’s realistic for me [to play in the NHL this year], so I want to set the bar high.”
Coach Joel Quenneville also spoke highly of Jokiharju.
“He’s pretty excited about coming into camp and trying to make our hockey team,” Quenneville said. “He’ll make that decision for us. He’s certainly somebody [who] we’re looking forward to seeing his progression from last year.”
In June, the Hawks signed Jokiharju, their 2017 first-round draft pick, to a three-year, entry-level deal after he dominated the Western Hockey League last season. Jokiharju recorded 12 goals and 59 assists, for a total of 71 points, in 63 games with the Portland Winterhawks.