Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Recall Pokka; Svedberg Sent Down

By Colin Likas
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All NHL teams were required to get to their 23-man (maximum) roster by 4 p.m. Central time Tuesday, and the Chicago Blackhawks did that with a few blue-line moves.

The Blackhawks will actually roll with 22 players — according to plan, coach Joel Quenneville said after Monday’s practice — after Michal Rozsival was officially moved to long-term injured reserve. It appears he’s not yet ready for on-ice action after a gruesome ankle injury in the Western Conference semifinals ended his 2014-15 season.

But the Blackhawks weren’t done there. It was assumed Viktor Svedberg would start the season with the big club after making it up to today without being sent to Rockford. Turns out, that wasn’t the case.

The 6-foot-8, 238-pound Swede will start his season in the AHL, and top defensive prospect Ville Pokka will take Svedberg’s spot on the Blackhawks roster. It was widely believed if the Blackhawks let one of their younger defensemen stick around for the start of the 2015-16 season, it’d probably be Pokka. But the 21-year-old, who the Blackhawks acquired in the Nick Leddy deal with the New York Islanders, was sent down to Rockford twice during the preseason, most recently after playing in Chicago’s second-to-last preseason game against St. Louis.

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  • Pokka, a 5-11, 200-pound Finn, is quicker than Svedberg, has more a scoring touch and seems a little better adapted to the NHL game at this point in their respective careers. How much time Pokka will see on the ice during his first regular-season stint with the Blackhawks is unclear. The team is currently rolling with eight defensemen, though Rozsival is of course on LTIR. David Rundblad has been battling bad play, and Trevor van Riemsdyk is another young gun who is coming off an injury-plagued 2014-15 season. Kyle Cumiskey is not one of these eight defensemen, though he’s still listed on the Blackhawks’ website as being on the roster. Cumiskey doesn’t even have a contract with the team, according to spotrac.com, so … make of that what you will.

    What this all means is Pokka could factor significantly into third-pairing minutes for the Blackhawks not too far into the season. He could even play alongside the likes of Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook if Q wants to mix up the pairings a bit (to create a “babysitting” scenario).

    But with today’s activity, the Blackhawks have their group of 22 (plus an injured Rozsival) for the regular-season opener against the New York Rangers tomorrow at the United Center. They’ll work with 13 forwards, seven healthy defensemen and two goaltenders.

    Oh, and the team is under the salary cap. Hooray! It appears the Blackhawks are currently at $70,589,712 against the cap, which is $71.4 million. So they didn’t get under by much, but they got under. Of course, that’s with only 22 active players. Yikes.

    What do you think of the Pokka up, Svedberg down move? Let us know in the comments section.

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