So Gustav Forsling was a steal and a half, eh?
The Vancouver Canucks and the Blackhawks swapped Forsling and Adam Clendening in January 2015. Since then, Clendening has played for the Canucks, Penguins, and Oilers organizations both at the NHL and AHL levels and Forsling has forced the hand of the Blackhawks to add him to the opening night roster. A good problem to have with a 20-year old, first time in North America defenseman.
Forsling has impressed Chicago all off-season and has jumped his way over players like Pokka, Viktor Svedberg, and Erik Gustafsson to get fast-tracked to the NHL roster. That and the fact Niklas Hjalmarsson is suspended for opening night, but never the less, he’s on the roster and they’re not.
Prediction: 2G, 7A, 9Pts
In the absence of Hjalmarsson, Forsling has seen time on the Blackhawks power-play unit and will be playing alongside Campbell to start the season. The Blackhawks probably won’t carry eight defensemen all season, but if Forsling makes the most of his early ice-time, he could find himself in a spot to be the seventh or maybe even sixth defender on the team.
Finally, there is 26-year old rookie defenseman Michal Kempny. A European signing in the off-season, Kempny was brought in to, again, fix the defensive issues of the 2015-16 Blackhawks season.
Since his arrival in North America, Kempny has been more than impressive on the ice and has proven already that he is ready to be a regular in the defensive core. Playing alongside Brent Seabrook, Kempny will have to really shine as a puck-moving defender and showcase his skating to get out of the defensive zone.
Prediction: 5G, 14A, 19Pts
It would be very surprising if Kempny is not consistently in the lineup night in and night out for Chicago. His transition has already been positive and if he can continue to develop on North American ice, Kempny could be a dark-horse for the Calder Trophy. No, not seriously. But imagine if it happened!