Seemingly already on European time, the Blackhawks assigned rookie defensive phenom Adam Boqvist and summer acquisition Aleksi Saarela to the Rockford IceHogs following last night’s uninspired shellacking at the hands of the Washington Capitals.
Boqvist finished the preseason with one goal and one assist in three games. His goal was of the highlight reel variety against the Capitals on Sept. 16. The move is not surprising and probably best for his long-term development, as The-Rink’s Mario Tirabassi outlined last week.
The Blackhawks were able to send him to Rockford, rather than back to the OHL, as per the NHL European transfer agreement. The agreement states that since Boqvist was drafted out of the SHL, he can play in the AHL at 19 years old. This will allow them to easily move Boqvist up and down as they please for the duration of the season and get him pro experience, unlike this year’s first round pick, Kirby Dach, who will need to be returned to the WHL if he does not make the regular season roster, per the CHL transfer agreement with the NHL.
Aleksi Saarlea was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes on June 24 shortly after winning the Calder Cup with the affiliate Charlotte Checkers and after the Blackhawks drafted his younger brother, Annti Saarela, in the fourth round (123rd overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He also finished second on the Checkers in regular season scoring with 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists), and fourth in playoff scoring with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 17 games. Saarela finished the preseason with one goal in two games.
The moves have the Blackhawks’ roster set at 28 players and will need to be trimmed down to 23 by opening night.
EDIT – The Blackhawks placed forward John Quenneville on waivers, with the intention of sending him to Rockford, as well.