The Chicago Blackhawks revealed on Tuesday that they would be without defenseman Duncan Keith for four to six weeks while he recovers from a torn meniscus, but the team made his absence official by placing him on long-term injured reserve Wednesday.
The move means that Keith will have to miss at least 10 games and 24 days, with his earliest possible return date coming on Nov. 14 against the St. Louis Blues.
The move also means that the Blackhawks get salary cap relief in order to replace Keith on their NHL roster. The team now has $5.5 million in cap space to work with, with long-term injured reserve allowing them to temporarily exceed the salary cap. They used the same mechanism during the 2014-15 season when Patrick Kane was injured, allowing themselves to acquire Antoine Vermette, Kimmo Timonen, and Andrew Desjardins at the trade deadline.
This time around, it’s highly unlikely that the Blackhawks will acquire anyone at that skill level, given that Keith will return to the team during the regular season and force them to adhere to the league’s cap number (Kane remained on LTIR for the remainder of the 2014-15 regular season, and the salary cap isn't enforced during the playoffs), but there’s still a chance that they could go out and sign a player if needed.
Lubomir Visnovsky is one player that could be on their radar, as he looked solid in training camp before the team ultimately decided not to offer him a contract.