Rostislav Olesz was acquired in a salary-dumping trade with the Panthers this summer. Brian Campbell took his enormous cap hit to Florida, leaving the Hawks with a player making $3.125M – less than half the cap hit for fewer years.
But why is Olesz still on the NHL roster in Chicago?
When I questioned the whereabouts of Olesz on Twitter after Sunday night’s game, I received two very telling responses from a couple of the best Hawks reporters in town.
Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times replied first with this:
Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald then followed with this:
It has become clear that Olesz is wasting time and space this season in Chicago. In the Hawks first 14 games this year, he has played less than 18 total minutes and is minus-one.
Reports out of practice on Monday are that Olesz could see action against the Blues on Tuesday night, a move that appears to be as much disciplinary directed at Bryan Bickell for a poor performance on Sunday night as it is a move to get Olesz on the ice. The last time Olesz played was on Oct. 13 against Winnipeg.
Hawks fans have seen, albeit in small portions, what Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith can do at the NHL level. Both have been effective scorers in their time with the Blackhawks, and both are playing well after missing the beginning of this season because of concussion issues.
Perhaps Tuesday night will be a notice to Bickell that he needs to play better. Or perhaps it’s Olesz’s last shot to keep himself in Chicago and not Rockford. With the Hawks special team struggles being magnified on Sunday night, this might be the time that one of these youngsters works their way back to the NHL.