Chicago Blackhawks: Henrik Karlsson Insurance Against Suspensions in Rockford

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IJanuary 22, 2013

New Blackhawks acquisition Henrik Karlsson was sent straight to Rockford, possibly in anticipation of a suspension of Rockford goalie Carter Hutton.
New Blackhawks acquisition Henrik Karlsson was sent straight to Rockford, possibly in anticipation of a suspension of Rockford goalie Carter Hutton.Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up some potential goalie depth Monday via a trade by GM Stan Bowman. Don't expect a change in the goalie tandem in Chicago just yet, though. This move is being made more to address the current situation in Rockford.

Bowman obtained Calgary goalie Henrik Karlsson in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. The selection is the pick Chicago got from Ottawa last fall in exchange for IceHogs forward Rob Klinkhammer.

Karlsson, 29, is a big goalie at 6'6". He spent most of the last two seasons backing up Miikka Kiprusoff, which means he wasn't real busy with Calgary. He was put on waivers by the club last week when the Flames decided on Leland Irving as their other man in the crease.

Karlsson has talent, having spent most of his career in his native Sweden. In 41 games in the Swedish Elite League, Karlsson had a 2.46 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He has seen limited action both in Calgary and Abbotsford in the last two seasons.

I don't think Bowman is looking to replace Ray Emery, regardless of some shaky moments Sunday in a 6-4 win over Phoenix. Unless Emery or Corey Crawford are injured, the move is more likely for the IceHogs in case Carter Hutton is suspended.

Hutton sprinted across the ice in Saturday's brawl with Grand Rapids and engaged in a one-sided goalie fight with Petr Mrazek. Hutton landed a bevy of right hands and scored a landslide victory, but may come under the thumb of AHL discipline.

Alec Richards was not good after Hutton's ejection, giving up five goals as Rockford lost 11-6. Kent Simpson came up from Toledo and gave up six goals Monday afternoon while the deal for Karlsson was being made.

It's apparent that the organization doesn't have confidence in either player to carry the load in net if Hutton misses multiple games. Heck, I guess it's also possible Hutton could have injured a hand while pounding on his counterpart. If Emery or Crawford were to go down and Hutton was not available, Karlsson would provide at least some NHL experience.

Karlsson gives Rockford another option in goal and could stick around once Hutton returns to action. Hutton has been a workhorse for the IceHogs and could benefit from a little more time off. Karlsson could be pegged for such a role.

A technically sound net minder who has size galore and is reportedly the possessor of a good attitude, Karlsson probably isn't going to be the next Brian Elliot. However, with Richards playing his way out of the organization and Simpson not quite ready for the step up in competition, he's an inexpensive pickup who fills an immediate need in Rockford.


Oh, Yeah...Some Other Guys Are Looking At Suspensions 

Seven players in addition to Hutton were ejected in the game with the Griffins. More than a few are probably looking at league-mandated vacations.

Rob Flick left the bench to enter the fray and was held out of Rockford's 6-3 loss to Texas by the AHL. He could face a six-game suspension or more, depending on a review of the game by the league.

Kyle Beach, who started the incident by going after Riley Sheahan, is probably going to get a few games off. Shawn LaLonde, Wade Brookbank and Kendall McArdle also could get one-game suspensions

Phillipe Paradis, who was also given a game misconduct Saturday night, played Monday and earned another game misconduct for abuse of the officials. It won't be a surprise if he misses time as well.

In anticipation of some players being out, Rockford called up David Gilbert from Bloomington after sending him down Saturday morning. Hope he didn't unpack.


New Blood 

McArdle, who was signed to a Player Tryout Agreement, made his presence felt in his first weekend with the IceHogs.

McArdle, Florida's number-one pick in the 2005 NHL draft, had a cup of coffee with Winnipeg last season. He had seven goals and 15 helpers in 31 games with Greenville of the ECHL. Last year in 54 AHL games split between St. Johns and Portland, he tallied 10 goals and eight assists.

McArdle, 26, had an assist Friday as Rockford won 3-1 over Peoria and was not shy about defending his new teammates as the benches cleared Saturday night. He could add a rugged veteran presence in the absence of Brandon Bollig and Andrew Shaw.

Also loaned to the IceHogs from Utah of the ECHL is former Devils forward Brad Mills. According to a tweet by Chris Block of The Third Man In, Mills will join the team next month, as he is currently (surprise!) under suspension by that league.

I''ll be back with more news from Rockford, particularly a look at more bad luck for prospect Ben Smith, later this week.