Chicago Blackhawks forward Phillip Danault will be sidelined for approximately four months after undergoing hip surgery Monday, the team officially announced Tuesday. The first report of the surgery came from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. Danault was expected to compete for a roster spot during training camp next month.
"Yesterday, Blackhawks forward Phillip Danault underwent left hip arthroscopy performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York City to repair a torn labrum. Danault is expected to be out of hockey-related activity for approximately four months," said Blackhawks team doctor Dr. Michael Terry.
The news is a blow to Danault's chances of making an impact in the NHL next season. The 22-year-old forward would have been among several battling for third- and fourth-line minutes on a new-look Hawks team next season.
Instead, Danault will be sidelined until at least mid-December. That'll make it difficult for him to crack into a group that already features more than a dozen obvious options, even with the uncertainty surrounding Patrick Kane and the team's remaining restricted free agents, Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom.
Beyond Danault, the Blackhawks have a number of young forwards who could slot into NHL roster spots next season. The most obvious name is Russian winger Artemi Panarin, plus Ryan Hartman, Kyle Baun, Tanner Kero, Mark McNeill, Garret Ross, Corey Tropp and others fighting for spots in a crowded situation.
That makes Danault's loss easier to swallow, though it's still a disappointing bit of news as the start of training camp looms exactly a month from Tuesday. Danault is considered the kind of solid defensive forward who could fill a fourth-line role for coach Joel Quenneville, but it'll be harder for him to make an impression later in the year while shaking off the post-surgery rust. There's still a bright future in store for Danault, but this should serve as a delay of sorts.