Blackhawks

Blackhawks recall Ville Pokka, assign Viktor Svedberg to Rockford

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Blackhawks recall Ville Pokka, assign Viktor Svedberg to Rockford

Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks had some decisions to make “for cap purposes.” A few hours later they made those moves, and they all involved defensemen.

The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Ville Pokka from the Rockford IceHogs, assigned Viktor Svedberg to Rockford and placed Michal Rozsival on long-term injured reserve. Pokka carries a cap hit of $925,000. But reassigning Svedberg ($575,000) as well as moving Rozsival and his $600,000 cap hit to LTIR – which means he’s out for at least 24 days and 10 games – gives the Blackhawks some wiggle room.

[MORE: Five Questions heading into the Blackhawks season]

All NHL rosters had to be finalized and cap compliant by 4 p.m. CT today.

Pokka was one of the players the Blackhawks acquired when they traded Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders last October. He earned AHL all-rookie team honors in 2014-15; he had eight goals and 22 assists in 68 games with the IceHogs last season.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Coach Quenneville said Svedberg had a good training camp and he will get his opportunity with the Blackhawks this season.

“He gives us a defenseman who can play. I like his size, reach and stick. He was more effective with the puck, put it in good areas and made direct plays,” Quenneville said. “I think he’s one of those guys who came out of the development of a couple of years, one of the pleasant stories through camp. You could call him a surprise, so we’ll see what happens.”

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

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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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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.