The Chicago Blackhawks recalled Alexandre Fortin from the Rockford IceHogs on late Tuesday, October 9th.
You read that right, the Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forward Alexandre Fortin. Andreas Martinsen has been dealing with a lingering back injury as of late which could be the reason for the call up. John Hayden and Martinsen have been sharing the role as the team’s 13th forward through the first three games and it looks as if Fortin will be taking over Martinsen’s spot for the near future.
It remains to be seen if Martinsen’s injury is the true reason for this roster move. Corey Crawford’s return is set for ten days from today (in a “perfect world,” that is) which will force the Blackhawks to make a roster move as a result.
The current starter, Cam Ward, is on a no-movement clause so the Blackhawks have to choose to either demote him to backup or eat his contract and release him to free agency. As for Anton Forsberg, the team’s current backup, the Blackhawks can choose to either release Ward and keep Forsberg as backup or send Forsberg down to the AHL.
The issue is, Forsberg is on a one-way contract meaning that he would have to clear waivers in order to stay within the organization. Forsberg is a capable backup who still has the potential to be a starter in the future, however he proved last season that he isn’t ready to take on that responsibility yet.
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He’s the type of goalie who could easily be claimed and his chances are significantly more likely given the Los Angelas Kings are without Jonathan Quick, the Florida Panthers are without Roberto Loungo and the Pittsburgh Penguins are without Matt Murray.
All things considering, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities to think that a trade in the works could have something to do with this move.
While that would be fun, the more realistic cause is that the Blackhawks are down a forward for the time being and are giving Fortin a chance to play at the NHL level.
Though he hasn’t tallied a point through two games this year (he’s currently a minus one), Fortin did score four goals and added 17 assists in 53 games. Fortin has a tremendous amount of skill and speed which the Blackhawks organization values significantly.
He could bring a jolt to a bottom-six group which hasn’t been very active yet this season.
Here’s what Blackhawks assistant general manager Norm Maciver said on Fortin this past April:
"“His skating is his No. 1 asset. We love his speed. We want him to be able to be a guy to play at that speed consistently throughout an entire season. So, he’s going to need a good summer this summer and hopefully a couple good summers where he really sort of transforms his body into more of an NHL body where he can sustain the pounding that goes on for weeks and weeks.”"
Fortin certainly had a good summer this past year as I thought he was very impressive during prospect camp. He was injury plagued last season and wasn’t able to play well enough during his limited time to be one of the 12 IceHogs called up to the NHL during last season.
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That said, his goal hasn’t wavered one bit after the tough season he endured last year.
"“Even the pressure is on you, sometimes it doesn’t go your way, so you kind of freak out a little bit, you just have to keep it down and believe in yourself,” Fortin said. “It can take one, two, three or four years. The important thing is you’ll go there one day. That’s my goal. Even with the year that I’ve had, I’m not even less confident I was with my first camp. I’m just excited for the future. I learned a lot. I know I can be there.”"
Well, Fortin’s “day” is coming sooner than it appears he would’ve anticipated. He has the talent and speed to make a difference to Chicago’s bottom-six, let’s just hope he’s learned enough to do it.