The Chicago Blackhawks are slowly trimming their roster down to size before the new season begins, and a few notable prospects were among those cut from the squad on Monday morning.
Forward Tanner Kero, who was projected to compete for a bottom-six forward spot with the Hawks, was among those assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in a series of cuts Monday. Joining him on that list were defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Ville Pokka, both of whom were hoping to make the team’s blue line this year.
Gustafsson, who appeared in 41 games for the Blackhawks last season while notching 14 assists, didn’t make the roster after a busy offseason for the team. The Hawks signed Michal Kempny and Brian Campbell as free agents, and have also seen the emergence of players like Gustav Forsling on the blue line, and all three of those players are likely above Gustafsson on the depth chart.
Pokka made an impact with Finland during the recent World Cup of Hockey, but he too was victimized by the Blackhawks’ increased blue line depth. In 76 games with the IceHogs last season, Pokka had 10 goals and 35 assists and was one of the team’s premier offensive weapons, so he could get a look if someone like Campbell goes down with an injury.
The Blackhawks also sent down several other players as their roster paring continues. Forwards Luke Johnson and Martin Lundberg were also shipped out, as were defenseman Robin Norell and goaltender Lars Johansson.
To finish off the moves, the Hawks also terminated the tryout agreements of forwards Chris DeSousa and Jake Dowell.
The Blackhawks now have 20 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goaltenders left on their roster, and they’ll need to cut at least 10 more players before the regular season begins next week.