In late January, 2015, the Blackhawks and Canucks completed a trade that would have been easy to miss when Chicago sent Adam Clendening to Vancouver in exchange for 18-year-old defenseman Gustav Forsling.
Vancouver might be having some second thoughts about that deal right now.
Since that trade Clendening has already bounced around to a few different teams (Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Edmonton, and now the New York Rangers), while Forsling is looking like he might have an opportunity to not only make the Blackhawks roster, but also be a young player that the team counts on after the massive roster overhaul that has taken place the past two years.
Forsling has impressed the Blackhawks coaching staff for most of camp and the exhibition season, while head coach Joel Quenneville was especially pleased after getting a good look at him in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
“He immediately impressed me, his poise his patience, his play recognition, he’s positionally aware, moves extremely well, I was very happy with his game,” said Quenneville on Saturday, via CSN Chicago.
He didn’t really hurt his case for a roster spot on Tuesday night in Chicago’s 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings when he picked up his second assist of the preseason by setting up Artem Anisimov on a perfectly executed slap pass to give the veteran an easy tap-in goal. Forsling looked like he had been making the play for 10 years in the NHL.
He’s been doing things like that all preseason.
Given the way he’s played, there is almost no way they can possibly keep him off the roster, especially as the team has already cut several other defensemen over the past few days and Forsling continues to hang around.
Following Tuesday’s game Quenneville said they were no closer to making a final decision on who would be on the opening night roster because everybody played so well.
The problem the Blackhawks are facing is they have a pretty crowded roster on defense at this point, even with Niklas Hjalmarsson set to miss the season opener due to a suspension, and because it’s a Chicago-or-Nothing situation for Forsling. His contract has a clause in it that says he can not play in the American Hockey League, which means if he does not start the season in Chicago, he is going to return to Sweden.