Andrew Desjardins ready to resume role with Blackhawks


Andrew Desjardins ready to resume role with Blackhawks

Andrew Desjardins had to adapt quickly to his Blackhawks surroundings last spring. He did so with flying colors, playing a key part of the team’s third Stanley Cup in the past six seasons.

As this season begins, he has another adjustment to make: trying to tune out Andrew Shaw, whose stall is now next to his at Johnny’s IceHouse West.

“We talked about that,” Desjardins said. “We may each have to get earplugs.”

[MORE: Blackhawks continue prepping for 3-on-3 OT]

From his friendships and verbal in-jest jousting with teammates to his play that helped him claim his first Cup last June, Desjardins has found his place with the Blackhawks. A trade-deadline acquisition that met with little mention or fanfare, Desjardins carved a niche on the fourth line where he developed great chemistry with Shaw and Marcus Kruger and signed a two-year deal to return to the Blackhawks in July.

Despite being one of the Blackhawks since last spring – he said he really started to feel comfortable when the first round began – Desjardins said it’s beneficial being with them from the start this season.

“It was good to go through the whole process of Notre Dame, being with the guys throughout camp," Desjardins said. "I think that can go a long way, [having] that little bit of bonding at the beginning and not just jumping in and the final push and everything’s go, go, go. So it was good to get there. It was good to get back with the guys. Not too much has changed; guys are kind of back to the norm.”

And despite coming off the shortest summer of his NHL career, Desjardins is more than ready for this season.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the 2015-16 Blackhawks season!]

“It was good, though. It’s amazing how you get back into it pretty quick with the short summer. It doesn’t seem like it takes as much,” he said. “You’re still working hard but you jump back into it pretty quick.”

The Blackhawks had plenty of roster changes this summer and lines will look different. If the Blackhawks want some familiarity to start, they could certainly put Shaw, Desjardins and Kruger back together. Who knows if that happens, but with uncertainty on combos and chemistry with other lines, there’s no doubt on this one.

No matter the line combination, which may or may not include his talkative Johnny’s IceHouse locker-room neighbor, Desjardins is ready to build off a very successful half season here.

“Whatever way it goes, I think we have to concentrate on our role. If we do we’ll be successful no matter who we play with,” Desjardins said. “[Line combos are] up to Q and that’s how we have to approach it. It’s great to be familiar with guys but we’re just trying to do the best we can to fill that role.”

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers


Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.