On Tuesday morning, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville shared some exciting news with the media.
Veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival might be able to return from injured reserve for one of this weekend’s games.
Duncan Keith might be available, too.
The Blackhawks are in St. Louis on Saturday before hosting the Calgary Flames on Sunday evening.
So far this season, Chicago has been forced to rely on rookie defensemen more than expected. Trevor van Riemsdyk looked good last season, but injuries cut his rookie season short. He is averaging over 20 minutes per game this season and has picked up two points in 15 games.
Most fans and analysts expected TvR to make the team out of camp, however. Some other names have been asked to step up, and have performed relatively well given the circumstances.
Viktor Svedberg is averaging 17:20 per game with two points in 14 appearances, and Erik Gustafsson has two assists while averaging 13:39 per game. Both of them could end up back in Rockford when Rozsival and Keith are able to return to action.
Another option would be to punt on the David Rundblad Experiment and place him on waivers. He has appeared in only five games, has yet to produce a point while averaging 15:13 on the ice, and is minus-two for his efforts. The fact that he’s buried on the bench behind a couple rookies speaks volumes to the coaching staff’s confidence in Runblad, which might make him heading to Rockford – or out of town – very real option.
The other issue on the blue line has been Trevor Daley, who isn’t likely to go through waivers but might find himself in the press box when Keith and Rozsival return. He’s been mediocre in his first 15 games with the Hawks, averaging just over 16 minutes per night with three assists to show for his season to date.
What we have seen thus far is that Gustafsson and Svedberg can play at the NHL level, and limiting their roles to bottom pair responsibilities would undoubtedly help the overall team scheme. But there are too many bodies for the six active spots on the ice now, meaning either Quenneville or GM Stan Bowman will have to do something to make room soon.