Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: What to Make of Dennis Gilbert’s Recall

By Samuel Boland
BRIDGEPORT, CT - MARCH 24: Notre Dame Fighting Irish defenseman Dennis Gilbert (4) with the puck during a NCAA hockey game between Providence Friars and Notre Dame Fighting Irish on March 24, 2018, at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. Notre Dame won 2-1 and moves on to the Frozen Four. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - MARCH 24: Notre Dame Fighting Irish defenseman Dennis Gilbert (4) with the puck during a NCAA hockey game between Providence Friars and Notre Dame Fighting Irish on March 24, 2018, at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. Notre Dame won 2-1 and moves on to the Frozen Four. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks announced this morning that they have recalled defensemen Dennis Gilbert from their AHL affiliate. Here’s what to make of this minor roster move.

The Chicago Blackhawks are out of the playoffs for the second straight year, so they might as well spread some playing time around, right?

Well, they aren’t coming out and saying that, but it’s what appears to be happening. Here’s the first part of their release via the Chicago Blackhawks team website:

"“The Chicago Blackhawks announced today that they have recalled defenseman Dennis Gilbert from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.Drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round (91st overall) of the 2015 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Gilbert has recorded five goals and nine assists in 59 regular-season games for the IceHogs this season during his professional debut.”"

Before you get excited, Dennis Gilbert isn’t going to miraculously solve the Chicago Blackhawks defensive woes. I imagine this is a late season effort to get him some NHL experience and evaluate his game a bit further ahead of a busy offseason which could see multiple trades made.

Still, it’s his first NHL call-up and a great opportunity for him as the ‘Hawks have an awful lot of defense prospects trying to make the NHL roster.

That said, he’s a different prospect than most defensemen the Chicago Blackhawks have in the system. At 6’2″, 198 lb. Gilbert brings a size element that others simply don’t. He’s a stay-at-home defensemen who has made a name for himself by, get this, playing defense.

Unfortunately, after a couple of solid seasons between the USHL’s Chicago Steel and NCAA’s Notre Dame, Gilbert’s play has fallen off bit. Still, he’s played well enough lately to earn himself a roster spot over the final three games of the season.

Your first NHL game is a big moment for anyone, but it’s especially meaningful for Gilbert who has a lot to prove if he wants to make his NHL career last longer than this season. Fortunately for him, his defensive-defensemen tendencies are working into his favor.

I wouldn’t expect too much out of Gilbert should he make his debut tonight against the St. Louis Blues, but he does still have the potential to be a bottom-pairing guy. If he can play that role well, great. If not, this call up could also solidify his place in the organization as an AHL defensemen.

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If Gilbert isn’t able to elevate his game a bit further and prove he can hang at the NHL level, he may fall out of favor in place of other, younger prospects with higher potential. Here’s to wishing the kid nothing but good luck.

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