Today the Chicago Blackhawks formally placed Marcus Kruger on Injured Reserve. This was not unexpected considering Kruger had surgery earlier this month on his wrist. Additionally, the Blackhawks recalled defenseman Erik Gustafsson from their AHL affiliate in Rockford. This is Gustafsson’s first professional season in North America, and has played in 27 games for the Rockford IceHogs, recording 11 points (3G, 8A). Gustafsson is a native of Sweden, which seems to be a hotbed for the Blackhawks (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Kruger interestingly enough).
This is actually Gustafsson’s second stint with the team this year, having played with the Blackhawks for six games and registering 3 assists from October 30th to November 12th. I am in full agreement with Mark Lazerus that the move makes perfect sense. The Blackhawks are a bit long in the tooth with the Scuderi/Rozsival pairing, and need to call up players that will actually play in games, unlike say David Runblad. In fact, it now appears that David Runblad, who is not practicing today with the team, has been placed on waivers.
Makes sense to have Gustafsson be the No. 7, but to actually play (unlike Rundblad). Bring back the rotation to keep Scuderi/Rozsival fresh.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 28, 2015
Waivers: DAVID RUNDBLAD
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) December 28, 2015
Runblad has never really seemed to fit in Chicago, nor does it appear Coach Quenneville trusted him enough to play regularly. While it remains to be seen if Runblad is claimed, or sent back to Rockford, a fresh start may be best for him. As for Gustafsson, the Blackhawks liked what they saw of him enough to sign him as a free agent on April 30th, 2015 at the relative bargain of $667,500 for two years versus Runblad’s hit of $1,050,000. The Blackhawks will also get cap relief due to Kruger’s placement on the I.R., so it is doubtful they are done making moves.
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength