In Focus: Gustav Forsling

On Tuesday night, Gustav Forsling dazzled the United Center crowd with a beautiful play that resulted in a power play goal for Artem Anisimov.

Forsling, who turned 20 in June, has been one of the breakout stories of the Blackhawks training camp this fall.

But how did he – and the Blackhawks – get to this point?

The Blackhawks had an important draft for the organization in 2011. Chicago had 11 picks that June, many as a result of the post-Stanley Cup sell.

That draft class has been boom or bust for the Hawks to date. The headliners were Brandon Saad (second round) and Andrew Shaw (fifth round), but seven of the players selected by the Hawks in 2011 have have traded to date (Mark McNeill may be next).

Six of those players were involved in four trades:

  • Philip Danault – traded to Montreal with a second round pick in 2018 for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann
  • Brandon Saad, Mike Paliotta & Alex Broadhurst – traded to Columbus for Anisimov, Marko Dano, Cory Tropp, Jeremy Morin and a 4th round pick in 2016 (Anatoly Golyshev)
  • Klas Dahlbeck – traded to Arizona for Antoine Vermette
  • Andrew Shaw – traded to Montreal for two second round picks in 2016 (Alex DeBrincat and Chad Krys)

These deals have been met with mixed reviews. Vermette helped the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup; Dahlbeck has played in 90 games in Arizona. Danault showed a lot of promise with the Hawks, and there has been plenty of criticism of how the Hawks used Weise and Fleischmann down the stretch last year. And the jury is still out on the Shaw deal; DeBrincat has looked terrific, but is still young.

[If we follow through on these trades, Dano was subsequently dealt to Winnipeg for Andrew Ladd and Morin was traded to Toronto for Richard Panik.]

On Jan. 28, 2015, Bowman made the first trade involving a player from that 2011 class.

Defenseman Adam Clendening, the 36th overall selection in 2011, played a couple impressive seasons at Boston University before signing with Chicago. There were some people in the organization who liked his game a lot when he was drafted, but over time the front office didn’t feel as strongly about him in spite of good numbers in Rockford (59 points in 74 games in 2013-14).

Part of the reason Clendening became expendable was the arrival of Trevor van Riemsdyk. The Hawks signed TvR as a college free agent on March 25, 2014 and he quickly jumped onto the NHL radar.

Bowman found a suitor for Clendening in Vancouver, who was looking for a prospect who might be more NHL-ready than some of their younger prospects.

Forsling was originally drafted by Vancouver in the fifth round (#126 overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. Barely 18 when selected, Forsling came to Chicago in a deal that excited some scouts and analysts, but didn’t move the needle for most fans.

Gustav Forsling bio

As the Blackhawks consider their options for the blue line heading into the 2016-17 season, their top four is secure: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell. But Forsling, van Riemsdyk and Michal Kempny are battling for ice time; Michal Rozsival figures to be the seventh defenseman. On Tuesday night, Forsling spent 17:11 on the ice with Campbell and looked terrific.

The wake of the deal bringing him to Chicago has been a steady maturation over 18 months for Forsling that now has him on the cusp of winning a roster spot – that may, ironically, come at the expense of van Riemsdyk.

Meanwhile, the wake of the trade has been tough for Clendening. Six months after being traded to Vancouver, the Canucks dealt him to Pittsburgh in a fairly significant deal involving Nick Bonino and Brandon Sutter. Six months after that deal, Pittsburgh sent him with David Perron to Anaheim for Carl Hagelin. The Ducks put him on waivers two weeks later, and he was claimed by Montreal. And this summer he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent.

We’re a long way away from being able to grade Forsling’s NHL career, but the early signs are that the trade to bring him to Chicago may go down as one of Bowman’s best. He brought in Nick Leddy in a deal that is infamous in Minnesota, and this trade may be viewed with the same level of contempt by Canucks fans in the future.

28 thoughts on “In Focus: Gustav Forsling

  1. Time will tell if Forsling will be a good players but the first look this year is good so far ..wish he could play a few regular game at the beginning of the season specialy with Hammer out for 1 game .

  2. Forsling has greater upside certainly than van Riemsdyk. But TVR has been a steady enough defenseman for Chicago and has earned the trust of Quenneville / Kitchen / Dineen. Probably the best course of action is to send Forsling down to Rockford to start the season. If it were me, I’d have TVR on the trading block right now. But Bowman isn’t me.

    Kempny? I’m still suspicious and I think we need to stop with automatically assuming he will be a rapid contributor. He will likely suffer some big growing pains. But Rosival is a nice security blanket in my view.

    I anxiously await Bowman trading McNeil for a used pair of jumper cables. Time to move him out of the organization and a fresh start for both sides.

  3. what are you talking about?
    TVR is mediocre and can only dream of skating and playing like Forsling, regardless of age.
    Play the kids incl. Fortin!
    I’m exited about the season again with these young guys, should make for an energetic and fast Hawks team, that’s fun to watch.
    Hawks again have a plethora of ridiculously skilled players.

  4. I follow the yutes as closely as I can. I never liked Clendening and after seeing Forsling let go a couple of bombs in WJC I was thrilled when we got him. I scanned a Canucks board the other day for comments on Forsling; there were a few dumb rationalizations (sample: “big shot, but not great with the puck”) but mostly a lot of hand-wringing (i.e. they know they got screwed). Whether it’s this year or not, I can’t wait to see him play in Vancouver.

  5. I don’t believe Forsling can play in Rockford I think its either NHL or back to Europe same with Kempny but different reasons?

  6. ^ Yes, it’s been posted here many times – Forsling can’t be assigned to Rockford. It’s either back to Sweden or he plays with the Blackhawks.

    The Blackhawks have until Nov. 30th to decide per Forsling’s contract and Euro assignment clause.

    A good guy to follow for all sorts of info like this is Scott Powers of The Athletic. He’s active on Twitter as well as posts a lot of prospect news.

  7. Forsling is special, IMO. I looked at those you tubes the day we traded for Forsling and thought “WOW, we may have something here.”
    But then he did not come over for a couple years nor sign a contract and nobody with the Hawks was talking about him so I was hoping Van did not trade him because they caught wind that he did not want to leave Europe.
    Now he has signed and come over and is showing he can do it over here…I would love to keep this guy. I started out a HUGE fan of TVR but last year and this preseason he has shown a propensity for some TERRIBLE giveaways.

    But I wonder about this expansion draft.
    If we send Forsling back to Sweden, would he be eligible to get plucked off by Vegas? If yes, I would put him there until that storm passes by.

    I loved Q’s quote after the play he made vs Detroit…someone asked him if he was a “special player” and Q said “I hate to throw that word around too much…let’s just say he’s REALLY GOOD.”

  8. Scott Powers of The Athletic now tweeting this:

    “Gustav Forsling’s agent says Forsling’s contract won’t slide this year regardless if he returns to Sweden. He previously believed it would.”

    Powers also retweeted an interesting Bob McKenzie tweet about Blackhawks talking to Edmonton about Nail Yakupov.

  9. Nice to see that some things don’t change around here.

    If I’ve read the tea leaves correctly on the 2017 draft, first and second year players are exempted from expansion draft eligibility. So that would protect Forsling, Kempny, Motte, Hino, Schmaltz assuming they all make the cut. Can anyone smarter than I confirm?

    With 4 out for the first game I’d expect both Forsling and Kempny to get a look for at least the first few weeks of the regular season to see what we have with them. A deep D corps is a nice problem to have for a change.

  10. Disclaimer: I’ve only seen one preseason game – the last game where the Hawks beat the Wing 6-1 – so I have a very small sample size with which to assess Forsling (or the other young guys).

    Forsling got “turnstyled” once by Bertuzzi but other than that looked very good. He is a cool customer who uses his stick well in the typical Swedish d-man style. He’s always looking up ice and is very accurate with his passes, as noted by Duncan Keith in post game comments. He has that big shot but can also pinpoint a shot/pass as he did on the Anisimov goal. He still needs to pass the test of doing all that while under a withering forecheck and against the best players, but so far so good.

  11. Regarding Yakupov. Some say its imminent, McKenzie doesnt believe so. If it does go through it is said no current roster players will be leaving the Hawks. Likely a C and or a d prospect.


    Apparently the holdup is money. Yakupov has 1 year remaining at 2.5

  12. TVR or Yakupov? The only problem w TVR is they need guys like him to be available for expansion. Im sure SB has planned I bet tootoo and Manshinter would be left available. Unless Svedberg or Gus is recalled.

  13. If its for McNeil that be even better. As much as id probably prefer Forsling now its probably best for him to stay in Europe until next year when Campbell, Rosy and TVR/expansion(all might be off the roster)

  14. If as someone mentioned we have a young Duncan Keith-esk, player (was that you Ernie?) then we have a 20 yr. old building block for the future, perhaps as early as next year.
    it’s great to see some emphasis on youth–that’s where the NHL is going

  15. Thanks. Let these guys play and have the guys that donot need waivers go to ahl so everybody gets games.

  16. Some have compared him to Hjalmarsson. I think he’s more Keith. His size,skating, and offensive ability was my reasoning.

    Morrison, your last comment got me thinking. Top 4 arent going anywhere. TVR needs waivers. Forsling has a European assignment clause and his first year is burned regardless. So I had to check, Kempny also has that European assignment clause. If he didnt I could see Kempny being sent down.

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