Blackhawks defenseman Caleb Jones is expected to miss approximately six weeks with a left wrist strain, the team announced Friday. He had missed the last few practices with what the team called wrist soreness.
It's an unfortunate loss for the Blackhawks, especially after already losing Wyatt Kalynuk for two-to-four weeks because of an ankle injury. Jones was having a really strong training camp and was almost certain to make the Opening Night roster.
"He’s been battling for a couple of years to break through and solidify a spot and a role," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He’s played games and he’s got that under his belt. I thought he had a really good camp. He came in, made an excellent impression. That’s the unfortunate side of hockey sometimes.
"But, it’s just for a short time. It’ll feel long but it’s just up to him to prepare as best he can so when he does get healthy again, he can reassert himself. Unfortunate for our team, but it’s the business."
Because of the injuries to Kalynuk and Jones, two spots are up for grabs as the Blackhawks prepare for their three-game road trip to open the 2021-22 season. One of them is a spot in the lineup and the other is likely to serve as the seventh for insurance purposes, although there's a possibility both could play depending on performance.
Nicolas Beaudin, Jakub Galvas and Ian Mitchell are the three defensemen left on the roster who are vying for those spots.
"It’ll be opportunity for somebody," Colliton said. "A lot of times that’s how you build defensive depth, is guys getting opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise get. Hopefully they run with it and then you have a bigger group than you thought when everyone comes back
"Last year, guys got opportunity in other situations maybe they wouldn’t get. I think our group is deeper because of it, but certainly never want to see guys getting hurt."