Some may have panicked when they saw the Chicago Blackhawks’ transactions today, but there’s nothing to worry about with their recent send-downs
Following the Chicago Blackhawks’ 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, the team officially went on its “bye week.” This is a new process the NHL is trying in which teams get a five-day rest period between games at one point in the season.
In fact, Edmonton was coming off its bye week heading into yesterday’s game, as the Oilers had not played since one week ago today. So now the Blackhawks will be off until Saturday, when they’ll host … the Edmonton Oilers. This all works out so nicely.
However, it’s not all vacation time and roses for the Blackhawks. Guys like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Corey Crawford, among a few others, are likely thrilled to get some down time.
These guys see the most action on the ice, and they rarely get a break unless it’s in the form of a Hossa maintenance day at practice or Crow getting a night off in favor of Scott Darling. They’ll gladly put their feet up for five or so days.
But younger guys don’t have a problem playing more, and in true it benefits them to do so. As such, the Blackhawks announced today that they’ve sent Gustav Forsling, Vincent Hinostroza, Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.
In a simultaneous move, the Blackhawks also activated Michal Rozsival from injured reserve, though I’m not sure if that’s also a temporary decision or if he’s truly healthy and ready to play.
Closer look at the bye week
The only real thing of note in these transactions is there’s a small possibility Rozsival could be placed back on the main roster out of the break and Forsling could head back to the AHL.
The Blackhawks could not keep both guys on the roster, as that would push it to 24 players assuming all of Hinostroza, Kero and Schmaltz return after the bye week (and there’s no reason to think they won’t).
Of course, the Blackhawks could also finally dump Jordin Tootoo, or they could even say goodbye to Andrew Desjardins via placing one of the two on waivers or outright cutting them. There is no roster freeze during a team’s bye week (clearly), so if the Blackhawks have something else up their sleeves to correspond with these moves, we’ll know soon enough.
But for now, let’s just assume these are all “give them more playing time” moves, which is certainly what they seem to be. I mean, the Blackhawks have won five straight games, so why mess with a good thing?
You may have never heard of the NHL having a bye week before. It reminds of the NFL, which year after year incorporates bye weeks for its teams. Here’s the reason why there’s a bye week for each NHL squad this season, courtesy ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
"In an important gain for the players, which they got in return for accepting the 3-on-3 All-Star Game format, the league will build in a five-day bye week for each team into their schedule between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 (this) season, sources told ESPN.com.Players will be completely off with no practice during this break. There will be practice permitted after 4 p.m. local time on the fifth day if there is a game on the sixth day; otherwise no practice will be allowed on the fifth day."
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This makes plenty of sense, especially for guys who play for playoff contenders. We always fret about the Chicago Blackhawks sending guys to the All-Star Game when they’ve come off so little rest between seasons (although that wasn’t so much of an issue this previous offseason).
Now, assuming this bye week idea lasts beyond this season, that has been offset. Granted, it’s not like they get a month off, but a nice five-day break in an 82-game season that runs from October through April — before the playoffs are even considered — has to be an amazing refresher.
Other teams holding the same bye week or a very similar bye week to the Blackhawks this season are: the Boston Bruins (Feb. 13-17), Carolina Hurricanes (Feb. 12-16), Montreal Canadiens (Feb. 13-17), Nashville Predators (Feb. 13-17) and Washington Capitals (Feb. 12-16).
While this break comes at a somewhat inconvenient time for the Blackhawks, being winners of their last five games, it also follows a six-game road trip. What better time for the guys (who aren’t headed to Rockford) to get a well-deserved break?
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks brass can take a few days to just sit and plan the immediate future of the organization. After all, the trade deadline looms on Feb. 28.
Additional note on send-downs
I should’ve known there was a money matter involved with this. Not long after finishing this post. I was skulking around Twitter when I discovered this:
So, Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman made these moves with salary-cap relief in mind as well.
The Blackhawks have been steadily piling up salary-cap space getting closer to the deadline despite Bowman saying the Blackhawks would likely be standing pat this year.
The team’s deadline cap space is currently listed at $6,304,676, according to CapFriendly. That will change a bit when all of these guys are called up to the NHL roster again, but the Blackhawks are still going to see more than $5 million in cap space at the deadline.
What exactly does that mean? A top-line left wing is the first things that comes to mind, but how much the Blackhawks would be willing to give up for such a thing is also a concern. We’ll see what Bowman has in mind.