Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Andrew Desjardins And Who Might Be Benched

By Colin Likas
Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Desjardins (11) after being hit by a puck in the face in the third period against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Desjardins (11) after being hit by a puck in the face in the third period against the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Andrew Desjardins appears close to a return for the Chicago Blackhawks, so who will sit when that becomes reality?

There is only one player currently listed on the Chicago Blackhawks’ roster who we haven’t seen this season. Forward Andrew Desjardins isn’t in some sort of extended doghouse treatment from coach Joel Quenneville, though.

The rugged Desjardins has missed all of the Blackhawks’ games so far this season due to a lower body injury suffered late in training camp. On that front, however, there appears to be some good news.

There’s Desjardins in full gear skating between the Blackhawks’ win at New Jersey last night and their game tomorrow against Los Angeles. It appears Desjardins is getting closer to a return, something that would probably be good for the Blackhawks from defensive forward and penalty kill standpoints.

Of course, this leaves us with a big question: Who sits when Desjardins returns?

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Not a simple question to answer

The Blackhawks would have to first send someone off the team after Desjardins returns in order to keep the roster at 23.

Coach Q seems to prefer running with eight defensemen, and really only Gustav Forsling would be likely to be sent down — even if he’s better than Trevor van Riemsdyk or Michal Rozsival.

So we look to the forwards. Vincent Hinostroza has been a healthy scratch of late, so let’s just say he’s going back to Rockford. Then we’re left with the question of who sits for Desjardins, because Q is at the very least going to want to get him some reps.

The easy answer would be Jordin Tootoo, who offers next to nothing despite what might be believed by anyone who only watches hockey for the hits. The guy is about as close as I am to consistently contributing to the Blackhawks in some meaningful way.

But we all know Q will be loath to remove his safety blanket “grit guy,” so we also have to look at other options. The names that immediately come up for considering are Ryan Hartman, Dennis Rasmussen, Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz.

Finding logic for a benching

Now, finding reasons why one of those four should be benched for Desjardins isn’t particularly easy. All three have at least one goal (Motte has two), and none of them have been bad of late.

Moving Motte seems really unlikely at this point. Q is trusting him with responsibilities at even-strength and on the penalty kill. While Desjardins could take the latter duties from Motte, taking a young guy who’s playing well out of his rhythm seems to make little sense.

Same for Schmaltz. He’s getting some powerplay time and working out his struggles at the faceoff dot. Schmaltz and Motte likely offer more multi-purpose potential than Desjardins, and benching guys for no apparent reason when they’re just past their NHL debuts is not something Q wants to get in the habit of doing.

Hartman has been fine, if generally “meh” so far. But, again, this is a “grit” guy Q is going to be loath to sit down. Hartman is far more useful than Tootoo, so I don’t have a problem with keeping him around.

That leaves Rasmussen. With Rasmussen not playing center this season, his chances of getting benched are far great. He’s been totally fine this season, but pulling him from the lineup isn’t going to hurt your team all that much when replacing him with Desjardins.

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Still, the Blackhawks should bench Tootoo for Desjardins. We’ll see how it all unfolds, whenever Desjardins is officially good to go.

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