The NHL’s holiday roster freeze is now in effect, so we can stand down on the trade demands until after Christmas. Though they didn’t practice yesterday, the Blackhawks did make a couple roster moves yesterday that included the promotion of Isaak Phillips from Rockford and activating Alex Stalock off IR. It’s good to see Stalock ready to return; it’s best that Arvid Söderblom is back in Rockford where he can play more confidently behind a team that’s winning games.
- The Blackhawks aren’t playing in the Winter Classic this year (thank God!), but there will be a Chicago flavor to the radio call of the game. Foley and Olczyk will be together again… well, an Olczyk. Nick will join Pat Foley on the radio call of the Bruins vs Penguins and I’m absolutely here for it!
- Since so many are asking “what’s the point?” about the Blackhawks’ season at this point, I present Exhibit A in the Reasons to Tank Discourse. Canada played their first warm-up game for the upcoming World Juniors against the Swiss last night and won 6-0. And the kid we keep hearing is going to be the top pick next summer did this:
- Steven Ellis at The Daily Faceoff dropped a piece in which he writes about 10 prospects who have stood our recently. One of the names that popped up was the third pick the Blackhawks made in the first round of the 2022 draft:
The United States won gold at the World Junior A Challenge this past weekend, and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Sam Rinzel was a shining star. One of a handful of NHL-drafted prospects on the roster, Rinzel had five points in six games and his big 6-foot-4 frame allowed him to shut attackers on the rush thanks to a long reach. There’s some offensive flair, but if he makes the NHL, it’ll be more as a third-pairing shutdown option that uses his long frame to his advantage. He’s set for the University of Minnesota next year, with this extra year of development being good for him after going in the first round last summer.
- Rinzel’s a popular guy this week. Scott Powers at The Athletic wrote about Rinzel for Tuesday morning. Powers watched all of Rinzel’s games in the recent World Junior A Challenge and spoke with Matt Smaby, Rinzel’s head coach with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL who also coached him in the tournament. Again, Rinzel is viewed as being a long-play prospect who has the ability to potentially be a game-changer, but needs a lot more growth and seasoning. But early indications, especially from this elite international event, are that Rinzel is on the right track.
“Especially at this level the tournament we’re at, you can just see the fact that he’s a world-class skater,” Smaby said. “It’s pretty evident. He ends up scoring a goal (in one game) on the rush, blowing by four guys. His skating is world class. In an event like this, it’s the best Junior A players across North America, he’s standing out big time in regards to that.”
- Can I interest you in a prospect fight? The Blackhawks drafted Ilya Safonov in the sixth round (No. 172) in the 2021 NHL Draft. He’s already a captain, but as you can see below he’s down for dropping the mitts as well.
- Finally, the other dressing room at the United Center was supposed to confidently produce a playoff team this year. But you can see the flames from that dumpster as well these days, which is terribly unfortunate for my colleagues covering the Bulls. But hey, at least now we can both sit back and watch the trade rumors swirl together, right?