Defenseman Ville Pokka still hasn’t hit the NHL yet, so it’s time for the Chicago Blackhawks to part ways
The Chicago Blackhawks are in desperate need of a veteran penalty killing forward, and it appears to have an abundance of defensemen in NHL and in their system. One defenseman who is blocked and, it appears, will not reach the NHL with the Blackhawks is Ville Pokka.
Pokka was acquired from the New York Islanders in the Nick Leddy deal. Since his acquisition, he has been on everyone’s top-25 Blackhawks’ prospects list. Pokka has been the most highly touted Blackhawks prospect to not play in the NHL.
Pokka, who has been in the Blackhawks’ system for three years, has yet to be recalled to the Blackhawks. Many believed that after a decent World Cup of Hockey performance with Finland, Pokka might have had a chance of making the Blackhawks’ roster earlier this season.
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Dpeth chart burns Pokka
However, Pokka was surpassed by youngster Gustav Forsling as well as Trevor van Riemsdyk, and buried behind recently added Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny. One could speculate that Pokka might also be behind Viktor Svedberg and Erik Gustafsson on the Blackhawks’ depth chart.
Both Svedberg and Gustafsson have played for coach Joel Quenneville in Chicago, and everyone knows Quenneville plays who he trusts. Despite being highly touted with the Blackhawks, Pokka just hasn’t gotten a chance.
Pokka has played in 163 games with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, across the regular season and playoffs, between 2014 and the present. In that time, he’s tallied 84 points, potting 45 of those in the 2015-16 regular season.
Blackhawks’ needs necessitate move
With a surplus at defenders and lack of NHL-ready forwards, the Blackhawks need to use of their assets to help improve their penalty kill and group of forwards.
Aside from Tyler Motte, the younger forwards have been underwhelming. Vincent Hinostroza has zero points and Ryan Hartman has one goal and one assist on the season. This is not the type of production the Blackhawks need.
My expectation is that Pokka will get an Adam Clendening-type look in the NHL before he is traded for a younger prospect. With Pokka in the last year of his entry-level contract, it might be appealing to a team looking for a young defenseman.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman always seems to know when it is time to trade a prospect and get a sneaky-good player for him in return. My frame of reference is Clendening for Forsling.
Will the Blackhawks trade Pokka? Rumors surfaced earlier this season that he might be traded, but nothing credible ever surfaced. I am not sure the Blackhawks will trade him, but I think they should and soon. The Blackhawks need to shake up their forwards, and Pokka might be the piece to do that via trade.