Does an IceHogs Transaction Mean the Blackhawks Will Make a Roster Move Soon?

On Monday afternoon the Rockford IceHogs announced a minor transaction, but it caught my eye.

Watson will turn 29 on Dec. 21 and is on an AHL contract, so him getting moved to Indy isn’t a huge deal. But the move puts the IceHogs at just six defensemen on their roster. Isaak Phillips, Alex Vlasic, Alec Regula, Jakub Galvas and Louis Crevier are in Rockford with NHL contracts. Adam Clendening is the only remaining defenseman on their roster on an AHL contract.

The Blackhawks have eight defensemen on their roster at the moment, which means — assuming Caleb Jones doesn’t go on IR because of his hip issue that took him out of the lineup on Friday night — someone will likely head to Rockford at some point to give them depth and clear some room at the NHL level.

Where this gets complicated is who goes down. At practice on Monday, Ian Mitchell was back working with the top six and Filip Roos was on the fourth pair with Caleb Jones.

It was reported back in early October that Roos had a clause in his contract that the team he had played for in Sweden retained his rights and, if the Blackhawks tried to send him to Rockford, they could recall him. Could he benefit from some time in the AHL? Sure. But if the clause does indeed open the door for him to go back, even this late in the season, that would lead to a more significant decision. Roos signed a two-year deal with Chicago over the summer, GM Kyle Davidson’s first European free agent addition.

Meanwhile, Mitchell has been working on the Blackhawks’ power play and getting more run in his second stint with the NHL club. He’s been working primarily with Jake McCabe on the Blackhawks’ third pair.

The number of bodies on the roster to fill the blue line is at minimum intriguing at this point. Jarred Tinordi just came back (earlier than expected) on Friday night and was immediately lost for a full period when he was cut by a skate on his first shift.

It’s worth noting the Blackhawks also have the rights to defenseman Cooper Zech, who they acquired from the Flyers for Evan Barratt in October. He has been in the ECHL since appearing in two games with the IceHogs. He has an NHL contract as well. NOTE: apparently the IceHogs recalled Zech late on Sunday night but have not yet added him to their AHL roster on the team’s website.

If the Blackhawks need to open up a roster spot for Tyler Johnson to be activated, it might move a forward to Rockford. The Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night. We’ll see if a move is announced before that game.

written by

Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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