A defenseman and a forward are heading to the minor leagues in the latest moves for the Chicago Blackhawks
Usually, personnel moves from the NHL to the minor leagues don’t happen between back-to-back games. With the Chicago Blackhawks coming off a win against Buffalo on Thursday and facing Carolina tonight, you had to figure the roster would remain intact.
Not so, however. Coach Joel Quenneville decided he wasn’t thrilled with the NHL debut of forward Spencer Abbott last night, so he was sent to the Rockford IceHogs. And that was paired with a more surprising decision, in sending defenseman Gustav Forsling to the same locale.
The first part of this worth noting is that the Blackhawks have yet to make any corresponding moves. If they didn’t prior to tonight’s game against the Hurricanes, that’d certainly be interesting. The Blackhawks currently have a 21-man roster with Marcus Kruger on injured reserve, though they can ice a full time without making any moves tonight.
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Maybe the Blackhawks won’t do anything tonight and will be OK with handicapping their offense (I consider playing Jordin Tootoo, and even Andrew Desjardins these days, handicapping the offense). Maybe they have some moves up their sleeve before tonight’s game.
Regardless, I think it would make sense for the Blackhawks to eventually call up two forwards, versus a forward and a defenseman. It’s clear Q is set in his ways with the defense (a Michal Kempny–Michal Rozsival rotation seems likely right now), but the offense has been pretty stagnant of late.
See if anyone down at Rockford sticks at the NHL level. They’d have to be better offensive contributors than Tootoo or Desjardins.
Looking at the demotees
Now let’s focus a bit on the guys who were sent down today. We’ll start with Abbott, since there isn’t a whole lot to say here. He was relatively invisible his first NHL game, which is probably fine for most young guys — except when they get put on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.
Abbott was set up for a boom-or-bust night, and based solely on stats, he busted. He got manhandled pretty well in few spots by the burlier Sabres, though his one good scoring chance came when he got net-front presence, ate a Duncan Keith shinpad shot and spun around to get something on net.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Abbott returns at some point before this regular season is out, especially if the offense continues to struggle.
Forsling might be a more surprising send-down, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad one. Sure, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Rozsival now have the keys to the car and can hardly move, but Forsling wasn’t exactly a shining beacon of hope lately.
He started the season really strong, but that quickly dissipated into rookie mistakes and getting bodied really easily along the boards. His decisions on shooting the puck were also sketchy at best, as he seemed a little befuddled on what to do with the puck at times.
Forsling had four points in 32 games with the Blackhawks, his first NHL stint. Thanks to him staying in the NHL long enough on his first go-round, he was able to be assigned to the AHL. There was a point in December he would have had to return to Sweden if the Blackhawks wanted him off the roster.
Maybe he could be replaced with a guy like Erik Gustafsson or Ville Pokka (please not Viktor Svedberg; the D lineup can’t afford to get any slower). But, again, two forwards getting called up at some point soon seems more likely.
I may be back with another post later today about one or two call-ups for the Blackhawks, so keep an eye out. For now, however, we’re seeing the team rolling with 21 players heading into the second half of a back-to-back.