Changes Happening; Rumors More Coming
Befitting a team that appears to be struggling a bit—and has definitely amassed a better record than its 5-on-5 play merits—the Blackhawks made a couple of moves today. And as I hear it, there could be more coming.
Center Marcus Kruger was placed on injured reserve (I believe that can be extended to LTIR at some point—as by all accounts, Kruger could be out the remainder of the regular season). #7 defenseman and practice cone David Rundblad was sent to Rockford, and Erik Gustafsson was called up.
Meanwhile I am hearing that the Blackhawks continue to pursue another top 6 caliber left wing. The "mystery man" I was asked not to divulge a week or so ago was (and is) . . . Arizona speedster Mikkel Boedker.
The Hawks have, I'm told, made their interest in Boedker known to the Coyotes. The Coyotes, as I understand it, would like to sign Boedker before he hits free agency, but there are some concerns about whether they can. That situation could evolve prior to the trade deadline. The Hawks love Boedker's speed and skill and see him as a "lethal" addition on Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews' left flank.
Another possibility, though less dots connect, is Florida left wing Jonathan Huberdeau. I was told today that the Hawks like Huberdeau and Dale Tallon likes Marko Dano. That does not mean there would be a one-for-one trade, nor necessarily that the Panthers would be inclined to possibly deal Huberdeau before the deadline this year.
There were rumors last year of a possible package coming from Florida last year that included Huberdeau.
And oddly enough, I received an "out of the blue" set of messages a few weeks back from a South Florida source—with a connection to the Panther front office—with a lot of questions about the status of . . . Marko Dano.
Let me be clear, I have not heard anything directly about a swap involving Dano and Huberdeau, and my sense is the Blackhawks would have to add some asset(s) regardless to make that work.
I was also told, the Hawks inquired with the Leafs about James van Riemsdyk—but the Leafs basically shut that down.
Would I expect an imminent move to add a winger with the profile of the players mentioned above? No. But such a move could become possible as we get closer to the trade deadline. The Hawks, I'm told, could create cap room through optioning Bryan Bickell and/or Rob Scuderi to Rockford, and putting Kruger on LTIR. There is also the possibility of an NHL salary going the other way in a possible deal.
Speaking of Scuderi, I would expect him and/or Michal Rozsival to get less games with Gustafsson in the mix. Gustafsson was sent to Rockford a few weeks back to play; and he is being brought up to play. Gustafsson is a plus skater, plays with an edge and is dangerous joining the play. He can also play either side. The learning process for him involves better decision-making.
Could Gustafsson also be showcased right now? You never know. I did hear his name and Viktor Svedberg's connected to Boedker discussions with Arizona (the Hawks' next opponent).
One last note, Tampa has been scouting Rockford regularly of late.
On the ice, Teuvo Teravainen has swapped spots with Andrew Shaw. And I would not be terribly surprised to see more of a shake-up if the Hawks continue to struggle.
I'll have an Arizona preview tomorrow.