Ville Pokka was once a prized acquisition for the Blackhawks, coming to Chicago from the New York Islanders in a trade for former Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy. Less than four years later, Pokka is on the move, with no games played in a Blackhawks sweater.
Thursday, the Blackhawks traded Pokka, 23, to the Ottawa Senators for forward Chris DiDomenico. DiDomenico will report directly to the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate.
DiDomenico, 28, played in 74 games with the IceHogs from 2010-2012, scoring 17 points (two goals, 15 assists). He then played with Asiago in Italy from 2012-14 before playing parts of four seasons with the SCL Tigers in the Swiss Hockey League from 2014-17.
The Blackhawks originally acquired DiDomenico and Viktor Stalberg from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kris Versteeg in June 2010. He has played just 24 games with the Senators this season, tallying 10 points (six goals, four assists). Prior to this season, he had just three games of NHL experience, all with the Senators in 2016-17.
The Blackhawks have been one of the healthiest teams in the league this season as far as man games lost, but they took a mini blow to their blue line.
Cody Franson was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 9 and Ville Pokka was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, the team announced Wednesday.
Franson sustained a lower-body injury last Friday in a 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres, and was considered day to day. But after practicing Monday, Franson didn't feel healthy enough to participate in morning skate ahead of Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers and was ruled out.
Franson is eligible to return Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Minnesota Wild.
In a corresponding roster move, the Blackhawks brought up Pokka, who has yet to make his NHL debut. There's a chance he could play Thursday in Winnipeg, but it's more likely the call-up is to provide insurance — although, the Blackhawks announced later in the afternoon that Jan Rutta (upper body) will not travel to Winnipeg, so perhaps Joel Quenneville could roll with seven defensemen against a high-powered Jets offense.
Pokka, 23, ranks second among IceHogs defensemen with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 26 games this season.
He was drafted in the second round (No. 34 overall) by the New York Islanders, and was acquired by Chicago in 2014 as part of the package that sent Nick Leddy the other way.
The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Pokka played in all 76 regular-season games for the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording six goals and 24 assists.
The Blackhawks’ defensive depth has already taken a hit this offseason, with Niklas Hjalmarsson traded to Arizona – Connor Murphy came here in the deal – and Trevor van Riemsdyk, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. While the Blackhawks will probably explore free-agent options this offseason, Pokka could vie for an opportunity at training camp.