Friday, April 19, 2024

Blackhawks Get Top Forward Back After Extended Injury Timeline

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After the Blackhawks suffered complete carnage on the injury report at the beginning of the season, the team has finally gotten healthy, for the most part. Back in November, it seemed as if Chicago was losing a player to a long-term injury nearly every game. Players like Colin Blackwell, Taylor Hall, Jarred Tinordi, and many more have all missed extensive time this year. The problem reached its peak when the Blackhawks had more cap dollars spent on the injured list than on healthy players.

While most of those players have made it back into the lineup, one top forward still remains on the injured list. After leaving the active roster on Nov. 9, forward Andreas Athanasiou has faced an unexpectedly long road to recovery. But after nearly four months off the ice at the United Center, Athanasiou appears to be primed to get back into the lineup any day now.

After suffering a groin/hip-related injury in Tampa, Florida (the Blackhawks’ last road win), Athanasiou “didn’t really think it was that bad”. After meeting with third-party doctors for an extra diagnosis, though, it was determined that the 29-year-old required additional rest and recovery. He didn’t resume skating at all until Feb. 10.

After taking part in practices in a limited fashion the past few weeks, Athanasiou has done so without a non-contact jersey and in near-full capacity. While he’s without an official timeline and isn’t in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Avalanche, he’s listed as day-to-day and isn’t far from a return.

Athanasiou’s offensive impact was palpable last season, as he tied for the team lead with 20 goals scored. Beyond just his scoring, his elite skating ability sets him apart. Athanasiou’s game stretches the ice for his teammates to get open, and he’s an incredibly valuable middle-six forward.

Athanasiou’s $4.25 million AAV contract won’t come off the books until after next season when he’s 30 years old. He doesn’t exactly fit the timeline of the Blackhawks’ rebuild, but he’ll still provide excellent value both in his game and as a trade chip. He likely hasn’t been on the ice enough this season to fetch decent trade value before this year’s deadline, but could still offer great value to a contending team next season, or stay with the Blackhawks as one of the team’s elder statesmen.

After an unanticipated lengthy recovery time, the skilled veteran appears to finally be ready for game action once again. Athanasiou will be an excellent addition to the Blackhawks’ still-thin forward ranks.

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Hehateme30
Feb 29, 2024 2:41 pm

I imagine he’ll get some opportunities to skate with Bedard going forward. He has scored 30 goals in the past. AA played with Detroit and LA. Just hoping he can stay healthy till the end of the year.

blockwood9
blockwood9
Feb 29, 2024 2:06 pm

I noticed he has breakaway speed, but he needs a finishing move to compliment that speed. If he does that he could see 30 goals a year. IMO

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