Why Blackhawks will be forced to play one skater short against Blues

Charlie Roumeliotis

The injuries continue to mount for the Blackhawks, whose injury report got even longer on Monday after two more players were added to the list. But there's an interesting twist to the equation as they prepare to host the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

The Blackhawks will be forced to play one skater short - 11 forwards and six defensemen - due to financial reasons.

Let's recap the situation:

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- Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol) has been skating for a week now, but he's not eligible to return from long-term injured reserve until Thursday against Boston.

- Dylan Strome (concussion protocol) skated on his own Sunday and joined the team for morning skate on Monday but has not been cleared to play.

- Duncan Keith (groin) was ruled out for the second straight game and Andrew Shaw will not play either because of an undisclosed injury.

- Robin Lehner is dealing with flu-like symptoms and won't dress on Monday. The Blackhawks recalled Kevin Lankinen from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.

Because Lehner, Keith, Shaw and Strome are all out and Lankinen was recalled to serve as Corey Crawford's backup, the Blackhawks had to make a corresponding move to become cap compliant, so they reassigned defenseman Ian McCoshen to Rockford.

In theory, the Blackhawks could have opened up a roster spot by placing Strome on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 23, but they wouldn't get cap relief from it and that's the problem. According to Cap Friendly, the Blackhawks have $362,499 in cap space as of Monday. Even though the remaining daily cap hit of a potential recalled player wouldn't cost that much, the full cap hit must be accounted for before it starts to accrue and that's why the Blackhawks' hands are tied even if they had an extra roster spot open.

You don't see teams dress only 17 skaters at the NHL level very often, but it's not uncommon in the minor leagues, albeit for different reasons. It's not an ideal situation in the bigs though.

"Happens all the time in the American [Hockey] League," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Guys will get to play more. We haven't played since Saturday and we don't play again until Thursday. So of course, there are guys missing we'd love to have, but it's no excuse."

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Why Blackhawks will be forced to play one skater short against Blues originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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