Out of the nine defensemen the Chicago Blackhawks brought to Europe, Dennis Gilbert has to be the most surprising choice.
Dennis Gilbert might not necessarily wow you, but he knows his role and he is going to get the job done. This is something the Chicago Blackhawks’ defense has been missing for quite some time now.
As of right now, Gilbert has done enough to force the Blackhawks’ hand. He is still on the NHL roster while a few bigger names have recently been sent down to the AHL.
When news broke that the Blackhawks sent Adam Boqvist and Aleksi Saarela down to the Rockford IceHogs, and Gilbert would be joining the Blackhawks in Europe, it was due to Gilbert’s impressive showing so far this preseason.
Gilbert has been in the lineup for only two of the Blackhawks five preseason games, but has taken advantage of his ice time to make a big impression.
In those two games combined, Gilbert has no points, no incredible top corner snipes, or no slick moves between the legs. What he has done is show that he is exactly the type of player the Blackhawks desperately need; a gritty state-at-home defenseman.
In his two preseason appearances this preseason, Gilbert has registered seven hits, one fight and has been on the ice for just one even-strength goal against.
This style of play may not be what Blackhawks’ fans want, but it is exactly what the team needs. His play has not gone unnoticed by those close to the team.
Dennis Gilbert provides a dimension that the Blackhawks defense currently lacks. With the humorous defensive play last season, and a group of offensive-minded defenseman on the horizon, Gilbert could be the missing piece to bring it all together.
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Last season, Gilbert had his first crack in the NHL playing one game for the Blackhawks in early April against the St. Louis Blues. He played his typical style registering six hits, a blocked shot, and a minor penalty.
He spent the rest of the season in the AHL playing in 63 games for the Rockford IceHogs. Gilbert won’t be depended upon for his offensive output, but he did net 5 goals and had 9 assists. Along with providing just a bit of offense, he contributed with his tough style of play and finished the year with 67 PIM.
Was inviting Gilbert to Europe a way to say thank you for his hard work in camp so far, or does he truly have a shot at making the team?
Whatever the Chicago Blackhawks decide to do with him, fans should expect to see Gilbert crack the Blackhawk’s lineup throughout the regular season and provide his physical style of play.