Chicago Blackhawks defensive prospect Ville Pokka may not be with the team much longer, as the Blackhawks placed him on waivers Friday
The Chicago Blackhawks have waived defenseman Ville Pokka. This year’s training camp seemingly was now or never for Pokka. Despite having a “solid camp,” it appears it will be never for the Pokka and the Blackhawks. After three full seasons in Rockford and one appearance in the World Cup of Hockey, the Blackhawks are letting other people take a chance on Pokka.
Pokka has always been an hot topic among the Blackhawks fan community. Many believed Pokka was the Blackhawks’ No. 1 defensive prospect. However, he never seemed to turn the corner in the eyes of the coaching staff. Scott Powers of The Athletic says Pokka had a fine camp, but that the Blackhawks just liked the play of Jan Rutta and Cody Franson better.
Pokka was acquired from the New York Islanders during the 2014 Nick Leddy trade. With Pokka on waivers, what is his next step?
Be claimed or return to Rockford
Since Pokka is no longer waiver exempt, he can be claimed by another team. The Blackhawks would not get any compensation for Pokka in this case. Pokka could be an attractive option for teams with defensive holes. He is still only 23 years old and is 6-foot-0 and 187 pounds. He did put up solid numbers in the AHL for the last three season.
I would fully expect that someone would claim Pokka. So a team like Edmonton could take a flyer on him and hope he helps this season.
In the event that Pokka is not claimed, he would report to the Rockford IceHogs for the fourth straight season. If he reports to Rockford, I fully expect the Blackhawks to look to trade him at some point during the season. It could be a similar move to the trade that sent Mark McNeill out of town last season.
The Blackhawks currently have the following defensemen left on the training camp roster:
That means the battle for the last defensive spot comes down to Rutta, Franson and Oesterle. I would expect that Oesterle is the odd man out. As much everyone loves his play, I think there is a reason Edmonton let him go this past offseason. Franson will get his legitimate contract once the NHL approves Marian Hossa‘s LTIR status.