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Blackhawks Make A Couple Of Roster Moves Heading Into The Second Half Of The Season

With this move the Blackhawks got less handsome

hayden

And less tough

Image result for John Hayden gif

But the Blackhawks are still looking to find the right combination in their bottom 6, especially with Anisimov coming back and likely losing his spot as the center with Kane to Nick Schmaltz. And as I have outlined in this blog and on twitter, Anisimov is most effective when he plays with skill guys who can control the puck which allows Anisimov to hang in front of the net as F1/F2 and not have to chase down loose pucks because quickness is not a strength of Anisimov’s. Jurco does have some skill and he’s been playing well in the AHL. Maybe he can finally have some of that skill translate to the NHL level.

Honestly though, it’s hard to make sense of the Jurco-Hayden swap. Jurco has been given many chances to produce at the NHL level and at age 25 he’s still never been able to grab hold of an NHL job. Hayden has been a consistent performer in that 4th line power forward wing role. He’s done everything expected of him. He plays hard. He plays physical. Kills penalties. Stands up for teammates. He didn’t deserve to be sent down, but…this could be a nice opportunity for him and the Blackhawks in the long run. I have these visions of John Hayden becoming an ideal third line type center. Big, strong, physical, responsible, and a guy who is good around the net. I don’t know that Hayden will get time at center in the AHL, but he will get top 6 minutes and will play in all situations. So whether he becomes a center or not, a little time in the AHL never hurt anyone. Hopefully he comes back better than ever after the trade deadline.

Which brings me to my next point…could the Blackhawks be looking to showcase Tomas Jurco ahead of the trade deadline? He’s got 25 points in 36 AHL games this year. Maybe the light switch finally came on. Or maybe they can convince Ottawa that it has. Ottawa is looking to trade anyone and everyone. Perhaps Jurco can be a piece that goes the other way and maybe its not a coincidence that the Blackhawks next game is vs the Senators. Just spit balling. No #sources or anyting on that. Just feels like there has to be some bigger picture motivation for this move because Hayden has played his role well this year.

The other move of the day

Franson has been fine this year. Probably exactly what you’d expect from him. He’s smart. He can move the puck. He just can’t move his feet. And it really shows against fast teams. It showed against Vegas several times. And while Franson is an analytics darling, he’s not one of the Hawks best options. Part of the thinking was that his value would be on the PP, but with the PP ranked 28th where is his value? With Oesterle emerging as a viable player every night, Franson and his $1m cap hit become expendable. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone picked him up and I hope someone does.

It’s been widely speculated that the Blackhaws are going to call up Erik Gustafsson from Rockford once Franson is claimed or clears waivers. You might remember Gustafsson from his time with the Blackhawks in 2015-16. I do

This play in Game 7 vs St Louis

Dicking around with the puck in a tie game at your own blue IN GAME FUCKING 7…then when trying to recover he goes in soft as shit

which led to a cookie goal for Troy Brouwer

And they lost the series and I guess you could say that I’m still not quite over it. Now, having said that, Gustafsson can really skate. Top notch type skater. He’s like the scarecrow, if the boy had a brain he’d be really something special. And maybe now he’s visited the Emerald City in Rockford and has a brain. He was named to the AHL All-Star team and has been one of the Ice Hogs’ top performers this season. He’s alway been a boom or bust type guy, but if he can play with intelligence and confidence he’s realistically a better option overall than Franson because he can skate. Hopefully the Blackhawks won’t need him much. Oesterle has been really good. Murphy, while scratched vs Edmonton, has been very solid for the past 20 games or so, and Rutta and Forsling looked good again on Sunday. That’s your top 6 D for the time being.

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Anisimov is coming off IR eventually so it’ll be interesting to see who gets sent down when that happens? Will they send down Jurco and keep 8 defense as they have all year or will just send Gustafsson back down as they continue to jumble the bottom 6 looking for the right combination. The Hawks are trending in the right direction. They just need to unlock this puzzle in their bottom 6. And who knows…maybe the Hawks like the idea of moving Wingels back to wing.. So your lineup, when healthy, would be:

Saad-Toews-Hinostroza

Hartman-Schmaltz-Kane

Sharp-Kampf-DeBrincat

Bouma-Anisimov-Wingels

Then you rotate Panik/Jurco in there as needed. Again, tough to make that work. Eventually Hayden and possibly Sikura will be added back in by the end of the season.