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.

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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.

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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.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."