Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Recall Defenseman Erik Gustafsson

By Sean Fitzgerald
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The Chicago Blackhawks announced two roster moves today, recalling defenseman Erik Gustafsson from the Rockford IceHogs and placing Marcus Kruger on long-term injured reserve. Kruger is expected to be out until April after having wrist surgery.

The moves leave the Blackhawks with $665,707 in cap space per GeneralFanger.com. This is Gustafsson’s second stint with the Blackhawks, previously spending time with the team from October 30 until November 12. He recorded three assists in his six games with the Blackhawks. Gustafsson during his first stint with the Blackhawks averaged 13:44 minutes of ice time while Duncan Keith was injured.

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At Rockford this season, Gustafsson has three goals and eights assists for 11 points in 27 games. Before joining the Blackhawks organization, Gustafsson played in Sweden with Frolunda HC for two seasons. He appeared in 105 games and recorded six goals and 43 assists in those two years.

The call-up of Gustafsson is a curious one as the Blackhawks have had trouble scoring goals in their last two games. The Blackhawks have recorded one goal in their last six periods. Their lone goal came from Brent Seabrook with three seconds left in the loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The move could be in response to the play of Rob Scuderi. Scuderi was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Trevor Daley trade.  My speculation would be that the Blackhawks fans will see less of Scuderi and more of Gustafsson in upcoming games. In last night’s game Scuderi got very few shifts in the third period and is only averaging 12:24 minutes of ice time per game. Scuderi, at 36 years old, appears to be at the tail end of his career.

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With Gustafsson being recalled, Blackhawks fans have to wonder if or when fellow defensive prospect Ville Pokka will be recalled. Pokka has yet to play for the Blackhawks despite being viewed by many as the Blackhawks best defensive prospect. Last season, Pokka lead all Icehogs defensemen with 30 points (eights goals and 22 assists), and he earned AHL Rookie of Year Honors for Rockford. This season, Pokka has five goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 31 games with the IceHogs. Pokka is currently on a three-year entry-level contract at $925,000 per season, and that could be the reason why he wasn’t recalled. The Blackhawks simply do not have the cap space to accommodate Pokka’s contract.

The Blackhawks will face the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday 8 p.m., offering Gustafsson his first chance to return to the ice for the team.

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