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Chicago Blackhawks’ David Rundblad Placed On Waivers

By Colin Likas
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Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman doesn’t always know how to immediately part ways with his on-ice signing mistakes, but he made a very wise decision Monday afternoon.

The team placed defenseman David Rundblad on waivers, at least temporarily ending a rough start to the 2015-16 season for the blueliner. Rundblad has been in coach Joel Quenneville‘s doghouse for most of the Blackhawks’ 37 games, playing in just nine of them and drawing scorn from around the interwebs in the process.

Rundblad was the product of a trade with Arizona during the 2013-14 season that saw Bowman give the Coyotes a second-round pick. Rundblad was given five regular-season games with the Blackhawks in that campaign and 49 more in the following season before playing in five postseason contests in the 2015 Stanley Cup run after Michal Rozsival‘s injury. In that span of games, Rundblad recorded three goals and 13 assists, with all but two of those points coming in the 2014-15 regular season.

Rundblad, 25, was inexplicably given a two-year, $1.05 million/year contract by Bowman after the 2015 Cup win despite Coach Q hardly using Rundblad, who is an offensive-minded defenseman without a great amount of ability or on-ice awareness. It was a product of the Blackhawks being cap strapped and losing Johnny Oduya in the offseason, as Bowman tried to shore up the defense with guys who at least knew Q’s system.

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The move didn’t pay off, and now the Blackhawks are clearing $950,000 in cap space by ending the commitment. If Rundblad isn’t taken off waivers in the next 24 hours, he’d report to the Rockford IceHogs. I’m not sure what the chances are that Rundblad gets claimed by another team, but he isn’t the Blackhawks’ problem now, regardless.

This move happened almost simultaneously with a pair of additional moves by the Blackhawks earlier today. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson was recalled from the AHL, while center Marcus Kruger was finally placed on long-term injured reserve after having surgery on a dislocated wrist a few weeks ago. Kruger is expected out until April.

Gustafsson showed some promise with the Blackhawks in his initial stint with the club earlier this season, amassing three assists and a plus-5 rating in six games with the team. He’ll provide a little speed and better positioning than what guys like Trevor van Riemsdyk, Rozsival and Rob Scuderi are currently able to offer. The guess (and hope) is Gustafsson stays in the lineup full time while Rozsival and Scuderi rotate in and out.

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With Kruger’s $1.5 million temporarily coming off the books and Rundblad’s departure clearing $950,000 in cap space, and with Gustafsson adding another $592,137 to the Blackhawks’ cap hit, the Blackhawks are looking at just shy of $2.4 million in cap space, according to spotrac.com (and some math by me). While the Blackhawks are struggling to score at this point, their main concern is still on the defensive side, as evidenced by the Blackhawks calling up Gustafsson instead of adding one of their numerous young forwards who have spent time with the club this season.

Of course, the Blackhawks are currently playing with 22 men instead of 23, so they could call up a young forward (Marko Dano, Vincent Hinostroza, Ryan Hartman) to attempt to spark the offense, even while Bowman continues (hopefully) to work out a deal for a capable fourth/fifth defenseman.

What do you think about the Blackhawks’ trio of moves today? Let us know in the comments section.

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