On Monday afternoon, the NHL Trade Deadline came and went. The Chicago Blackhawks were relatively busy, making two deals before the deadline passed at 2pm Central Time. Both moves avoiding giving up any picks or prospects and left the Rockford IceHogs intact moving into the final month and a half of the NHL and AHL seasons.
No IceHogs Involved In Blackhawks Deadline Moves
The Blackhawks made two deals on Monday, neither one touched the roster of the IceHogs. First, Chicago dealt forward Ryan Hartman to the Nashville Predators.
- Blackhawks Receive: 2018 1st Round pick, 2018 4th Round pick, Victor Ejdsell
- Predators Receive: Ryan Hartman, 2018 5th Round pick
As the clock struck 2pm, the Blackhawks made their second move of Deadline Day sending forward Tommy Wingels to the Boston Bruins.
- Blackhawks Receive: 2018 Conditional 5th Round pick (If Bruins reach Eastern Conference Semi-Finals or re-sign Wingels, pick becomes 2018 4th Round)
- Bruins Receive: Tommy Wingels
While rumors swirled that the Blackhawks may have been trying to deal defenseman Brent Seabrook and/or forward Artem Anisimov, the deals would have potentially needed to involve prospects to sweeten any type of deal. The IceHogs were able to come away from the NHL Deadline without losing any key personnel.
As far as trade reaction goes, the Blackhawks were essentially able to turn Ryan Hartman and Tommy Wingels into 2018 1st and 4th round picks and a “near NHL-ready” prospect, to quote general manager Stan Bowman, in Ejdsell. All-in-all, a decent haul for what was being moved. It hurts to lose a player like Hartman, but the return makes the most sense for trying to rebuild towards the future. With that 1st Round pick coming from the Predators, it’ll more than likely come in the late 20’s, maybe even as high as 30th or 31st, we’ll see.
As well as making trades on Monday, the Blackhawks and IceHogs needed to be mindful of the roster limits of the AHL. With the passing of the NHL Trade Deadline, the AHL rosters would be locked for who could participate in any postseason action. With that in mind, the Blackhawks made “paper transactions” to make sure that David Kampf, Carl Dahlstrom, and J.F. Berube would be eligible for any kind of Calder Cup Playoff action the IceHogs may see in the Spring.
Kampf originally was recalled by Chicago on Dec. 27 and since then, he has skated in 27 games with eight points (3G, 5A). In his time with the IceHogs, Kampf played in 30 games with 16 points (7G, 9A).
Dahlstrom, after being named an AHL All-Star in January, was recalled by the Blackhawks on Feb. 9 and since has skated in seven games with two assists. While in Rockford this season, he played in 47 games with 23 points (3G, 20A).
Berube has had two stints with the Blackhawks this season, but made his first start with Chicago just a few days ago on Friday, Feb. 23 against the Sharks. In two appearances in the NHL this year, Berube is 1-0-0 with a 1.73 GAA and a .947 save percentage. With the IceHogs, he made 15 appearances with a 7-8-0 record, a 2.37 GAA and .920 save percentage.
Roster Moves To Make
Aside from the paper transactions and trades made on Monday, the Blackhawks also made a pair of moves to open up roster space in Chicago. Forward Lance Bouma was placed on waivers on Sunday and cleared on Monday afternoon. Once clearing, Bouma was assigned to the IceHogs. This season in Chicago, Bouma has skated in 53 games with nine points (3G, 6A) and has 95 games of AHL experience, all with the Abbotsford Heat.
With Bouma being sent down to the IceHogs, the Blackhawks made a corresponding move by re-calling forward Matthew Highmore. A free agent signing in the Summer, Highmore leads the IceHogs with 35 points (21G, 14A) in 56 games played. In his latest game against the Hershey Bears, Highmore netted his 21st goal of the season and in doing so, set the franchise AHL record for goal-scoring by a rookie.
Along with Highmore, it would not be surprising to see the Blackhawks recall players like John Hayden, Gustav Forsling, or Anthony Louis and give them a shot with Chicago before season’s end. Hayden played in 39 games with the Blackhawks this season before being sent to Rockford on Jan. 8. Since then, Hayden has skated in 19 games with 14 points (5G, 9A). Forsling is another player that began the 2017-18 season with the Blackhawks, but was sent to the IceHogs on Jan. 21 and has since skated in 12 games with three points.
Finally, Anthony Louis has been one of the more underrated forwards for Rockford this season. When players like Kampf, Tomas Jurco, and Vince Hinostroza were recalled by the Blackhawks, Louis and Highmore took the offensive reins. Louis has 32 points (10G, 22A) in 51 games his first full year in the AHL this season. With the trades of Hartman and Wingels, along with the Bouma assignment, the Blackhawks have the roster space and the IceHogs have the players worthy of a look in the NHL.
The IceHogs return to action on Wednesday as they host the Texas Stars in Rockford. Puck drop is set for 7pm Central Time at the BMO Harris Ban Center. Both the Stars and IceHogs are fighting to keep their Calder Cup Playoff hopes alive as the Stars sit in 3rd place in the AHL Pacific Division with a 29-19-7 record, 65 points and a .591 point-percentage. As for Rockford, they currently are on the outside looking in at the Playoff picture. Sitting in 5th place in the AHL Central Division with a 27-23-6 record, 60 points and a .536 point-percentage, the IceHogs trail the Iowa Wild by .047 point-percentage points for 4th place and a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. As of Monday, Rockford has 20 games to play, while the Wild have 22 to play. There is work to be done for the IceHogs.