Blackhawks

Blackhawks loan David Rundblad to Switzerland's ZSC Lions

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Blackhawks loan David Rundblad to Switzerland's ZSC Lions

David Rundblad never got much time in the Blackhawks’ lineup. Now, a few days after being placed on waivers, he’ll head overseas.

The Blackhawks loaned Rundblad to the ZSC Lions of Switzerland’s National League A on Sunday morning. The 25-year-old defenseman signed a two-year, $2.1 million contract this offseason (a cap hit of $1.05million per season). The Blackhawks, according to generalfanger.com, will carry a $100,000 buried cap hit for Rundblad.

Rundblad played in nine games this season and recorded two assists. He played in 49 games last season with three goals and 11 assists. Rundblad got in some when other defensemen were hurt; Duncan Keith missed a month after right-knee surgery and Michal Rozsival, recovering from a fractured ankle, was out until mid-November. But even in those cases, the Blackhawks usually looked to other defensemen to fill roles. Viktor Svedberg and Erik Gustafsson were recalled from Rockford and got opportunities immediately.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Gustafsson was recalled again on Dec. 28, the same day the Blackhawks placed Rundblad on waivers.

Considered more of an offensive-type defenseman, Rundblad’s defense was more of a question mark. That, and the Blackhawks’ desire to get some of the younger defensemen like Gustafsson in the lineup, meant the end of Rundblad’s time here.

“We got some organizational depth here this year, we had a couple opportunities for young guys to come in and play at the start of the year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think it was healthy for our team knowing that Erik Gustafsson came in and showed that he could play. We were trying to get a way for us to get him up here to play, and that was part of it. He’s been back in the lineup the past two games; he’s kind of played the way he did earlier on in the year. I think it’s more a byproduct of other guys’ play.”

As far as if Rundblad could return – this is the first year of that two-year deal – Quenneville didn’t rule anything out.

[MORE: Erik Gustafsson getting big opportunity with Blackhawks]

“I think it’s one area and one position where you can never have enough depth,” he said. “You never know what’s going to play out. Things change immediately in our business. I think that’s all part of it.”

UPDATES

— Bryan Bickell will be back in the lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators. Who comes out is unknown.

— Michal Rozsival will be the sixth defenseman tonight. Rob Scuderi will be a healthy scratch.

— Corey Crawford starts vs. the Senators.

 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.