So What's The Blackhawks' Playoff Plan For Rockford?

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So What’s The Blackhawks’ Playoff Plan For Rockford?

Chicago Blackhawks

From the start of the season, when Lukas Reichel appeared to be one of the better forwards available to new Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson, questions surfaced about how long he would be in Rockford/when he would get recalled.

Reichel has now been with the Blackhawks for more than one full month. And he’s been joined recently by defenseman Alex Vlasic, who had been skating top-pair minutes on the blue line for the IceHogs. So the questions came back up regarding the plan(s) for those two top prospects.

Part of the Blackhawks’ rebuild plan this entire season was for players — especially Reichel — to get “meaningful playoff experience” with the IceHogs this season. As the regular seasons in the NHL and AHL draw near their ends, at some point the Blackhawks will ironically be sending reinforcements to their minor league affiliate as they get ready to make a push.

Entering Monday, there is cause for some concern regarding the IceHogs’ playoff hopes. They currently sit fifth in their Central Division with 71 points and find themselves three points back of Iowa for fourth and six points behind Minnesota for third.

So the IceHogs need some help. And the Blackhawks now find themselves in the drivers’ seat in the Bad for Bedard Sweepstakes standings, so sending a few bodies down might make sense for all involved parties.

On Sunday, the Blackhawks placed forward Joey Anderson on waivers. If you recall, Reichel and Anderson were the two players placed on the Rockford roster before the NHL trade deadline so they would be eligible for the playoffs. Right now the Blackhawks do not have enough healthy bodies to cover 12 forward spots, unfortunately. But once Anderson clears on Monday, he’ll be able to be assigned to Rockford.

Over the weekend, Richardson was asked about the plan for Reichel and Vlasic. He indicated that Vlasic will go on the trip with the team this week, but Reichel will finish the regular season in Chicago.

“I believe they’re coming on the road trip,” Richardson said on Saturday night. “I think Reichel’s planning to stay here the rest of the year. Vlasic may go back after the road trip to get a little bit of time to acclimate back there on defense, especially. I think Lukas is going to join them after our games are done, for the playoffs.”

Richardson also noted that Jarred Tinordi has been skating and will be on the trip as well, giving the Blackhawks too many bodies on an already crowded blue line.

The IceHogs have six games left in their regular season, three of which come after the end of the Blackhawks’ season on April 13. That included a home-and-home series with Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday this week. We’ll have to keep an eye on their performance in the coming week to see how badly they need help to make that playoff appearance.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab