Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks may have corned the market on injured defensemen today.
It was announced by multiple outlets this morning that former Blackhawk Kyle Cumiskey agreed to a 1-year deal with the Blackhawks. He stands to make $575,000 on the one-way contract.
Cumiskey was signed to a professional tryout contract by the Rockford IceHogs on Oct. 2 but has yet to suit up for them. The reason: He’s recovering from a lower-body injury. So Cumiskey, like Michal Rozsival, won’t be playing immediately on his new deal.
According to ESPN’s Scott Powers, however, Cumiskey has been cleared for contact and is “likely a few weeks away from playing.” Powers suggested that Cumiskey will be sent to the AHL for now, meaning he’d need to clear waivers in the process.
And wouldn’t you know it, Cumiskey is now on waivers.
It’s a safe bet Cumiskey won’t be picked up by another team off waivers, considering he’s not even healthy and won’t exactly light the world on fire from the blue line when he is. But it’s not impossible the Blackhawks could lose Cumiskey less than 24 hours after signing him. Just highly unlikely.
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This is an interesting signing by the Blackhawks and might indicate their trading options for defensemen around the league just aren’t feasible at this time. Or maybe Rozsival is much further away from playing than we all thought. Or maybe Stan is losing his mind. It just seems strange that the Blackhawks let leak that they’re in the market for a defenseman, and then they wind up signing an injured one who Joel Quenneville didn’t want in the lineup the last time he was in town.
Cumiskey, 28, spent most of last season in Rockford, recording just 16 games with the Blackhawks. However, nine of those were in the postseason, and it’s safe to say many fans were scared for each moment he was on the ice in those nine games. Cumiskey is the definition of a blueliner who is just there. He’s only played more than half an NHL season once, and that was a 61-game stint with Colorado in 2009-10. He has nine goals and 26 assists in 139 career big-league games to go along with a minus-9 rating. In last season’s playoff run, Cumiskey was a minus-3 and tallied a shot on goal.
Once Cumiskey is healthy, what does this mean for the Blackhawks’ blue line? It’s hard to say, especially since Stan may make some other defense-related move before Cumiskey is good to go. There’s always the chance Cumiskey stays in Rockford once he’s healthy and comes up at a later time. Maybe he never comes up at all. Stan and some of the guys currently on the blue line for the Blackhawks have a say in that, to different extents.
The reason the Blackhawks are looking for a defenseman is their over-reliance on Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson along with the struggles of Trevor Daley and Viktor Svedberg, as well as Trevor van Riemsdyk to a lesser extent. And we can’t forget David Rundblad, who may as well be gone at this point. If Daley, Svedberg and van Riemsdyk are able to make Q and Co. more comfortable with the current defensive structure, Cumiskey’s services may not be required at the NHL level, especially if Rozsival comes back to “full strength.” The cap-strapped Blackhawks are basically going with what they know as a backup plan for defensemen who may struggle/are struggling.
The only problem with that is, what they know is a pair of guys recovering from injury, and a pair of guys who may not be a vast improvement over what the Blackhawks are currently icing.
This is where past trades that sent much of the team’s young defensive depth out the door are coming back to haunt the Blackhawks. But if you want to produce a championship team (three times in six years), sometimes you have to bite the bullet later.
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