The Chicago Blackhawks will be playing the Edmonton Oilers to open up the 24 team playoff bracket. 

Unfortunately there's a chance they might be missing a key forward. 

While the team will get some players back from injury for the playoffs, they might lose one because of VISA problems. 

Blackhawks' forward Dominik Kubalik is back in his home Czech Republic, however both his contract and work visa will expire on June 30. 

While his contract will obviously be extended by the league so he can play, the league has no control over his work visa. 

From Sean Shapiro at The Athletic:

"Players on expiring contracts, both pending restricted and unrestricted free agents, can’t legally work in the United States after June 30. The Dallas Stars have eight players who fall under this category — plus Miro Heiskanen, whose visa expires this summer because his entry-level contract had a rookie slide after he spent the first year of the deal in Finland.

Across the NHL, directors of team services handle immigration in a similar fashion. Early in the offseason, usually in early July after free agency has been completed, teams will send visa applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When Rademan submits the applications for Stars players, he also includes a copy of the press release from when they signed and their career statistics; immediate proof to fulfill the P-1A requirement that the applicant is an exceptional athlete coming to work in the United States.

In the offseason, the typical turnaround time for the visa is 10 to 14 days, according to Rademan. Once approved by USCIS, the next step varies by nationality. Canadians are now cleared after getting the green light from the U.S. Government. Players in Europe and Russia have to take an additional step and need to visit the American consulate in their home country. The players will take the document that Rademan sent them and go in for an interview. Once completing that interview, the player will get the stamp in their passport that makes it legal for them to come and work in the United States."



Source: The Athletic