Following the NHL All-Star break and their bye week, the Blackhawks got back to business for the final 31 games of the 2018-19 season. Their first moving coming out of the break was to assign rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju to the Rockford Icehogs.
With Gustav Forsling coming back from injury soon, this move trims the roster down to seven defensemen, and allows for Jokiharju to play top-4 minutes every night. With only Carl Dahlstrom and Jokiharju waiver exempt, the Blackhawks had few options. It appears as though head coach Jeremy Colliton likes Dahlstrom’s size and physicality in the lineup, while Jokiharju has seemingly hit the rookie wall.
Since coming back from helping Team Finland win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships, he has played 5 games and seen his ice time dwindle. In five games back, Jokiharju has one assist and is a -4. His possession numbers are over 50% but he has been heavily sheltered with over 60% offensive zone starts.
If the Blackhawks are able to successfully showcase some of the players like Gustav Forsling, or even Erik Gustafsson, before the trade deadline, Jokiharju’s stint in Rockford could be rather short.