Trevor van Riemsdyk had the same broad smile on his face at the Blackhawks’ exit interviews as he had in training camp back in September.
The 23-year-old defenseman went through the highs and lows of his first professional season, from making the team and earning coach Joel Quenneville’s trust to suffering two devastating injuries, first to his knee and then to his wrist. Yet there he was, playing in the Blackhawks’ last Stanley Cup Final games. Now van Riemsdyk will have his day with the Cup and then spend the summer training to see what he can bring to the Blackhawks in his second year.
Van Riemsdyk got to be part of the Blackhawks’ third Cup of the past six seasons on Monday and took in everything from the Wrigley Field visit to the Soldier Field rally. It was a happy ending for a player who had to keep his chin up through most of his injury-riddled season.
“Hanging with the family, the team, getting to go to Wrigley with the Cup, there was a lot of fun,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s definitely been a whirlwind.”
Van Riemsdyk was a surprise out of last season’s training camp. This year, he won’t be. The Blackhawks got a glimpse of what he could do before he was hurt, and Quenneville liked what he saw. As long as all goes well, van Riemsdyk should have a great opportunity this fall.
“Yeah, that’s the goal, to have a good summer, to get all these injuries and stuff taken care of 100 percent and come back even stronger than I was at the start of this year,” he said. “It’ll be a fun training camp to come and show them what I can do and go from there.”
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Will van Riemsdyk have an even bigger opportunity this fall? He was slotted in the 5-6 spots last year, and his presence made the loss of Nick Leddy easier to take. The Blackhawks’ defensive depth, however, could be a lot different in a few months. The Blackhawks probably won’t be able to re-sign Johnny Oduya. Who knows if Michal Rozsival, another free agent, re-signs.
Van Riemsdyk isn’t reading too much into a roster that is undecided. He broke through in a season he wasn’t expected to be on the radar. He’ll take advantage of whatever comes his way next fall.
“It’s exciting to look at that and see how some things may fall,” van Riemsdyk said. “You never know, but it’s definitely exciting to know your role may be expanded. But it’s up to me to show them I can handle that and deserve more responsibility.”