When Michal Rozsival went down with an ankle injury that ended his season in the second round of the post-season, there weren't many solid options for Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville to turn to. Now he has one less, as it appears AHL blueliner and one of the Blackhawks top prospects, Stephen Johns, will be sidelined with a broken forearm.
According to WREX reporter Dan Cohen -- and confirmed by Johns himself -- the 23-year-old defenseman suffered the broken arm in the Game 5 defeat the Rockford IceHogs suffered at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins. The loss ended Rockford's season and it appears the break has done the same for Johns. The timetable for his recovery is reportedly 4-to-6 weeks.
Johns has yet to make his NHL debut outside of suiting up for a handful of preseason games with the Blackhawks and he just finished his first professional season in Rockford this year. After spending four years at NCAA Notre Dame where he was twice named to conference all-tournament teams, Johns made the jump to the AHL this season. He was selected in the second round, 60th overall, by the Blackhawks in 2010.
In his first professional season, Johns managed four goals and 21 points from the backend, and some consider him the most likely AHL blueliner to make the jump to the NHL next season when the Blackhawks have openings on their blueline.
With Johns out, however, Chicago will have to continue to utilize either David Rundblad, Kyle Cumiskey or Michael Paliotta in the spot vacated by Rozsival. Rundblad got the call in Game 1 of the Western Conference final but was victimized on the second period tally by Kyle Palmieri -- the marker that eventually stood as the game-winning goal.
In The Hockey News' Future Watch issue, Johns wasn't ranked as one of the Blackhawks' top prospects, but he is considered to be one of the best up and coming defensemen in Chicago's system.