NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Chicago Blackhawks

Something In The Way – C.I.’s ’15-’16 Season Preview: The Rest Of The Defense

After the first five d-men we’ve previewed, the Hawks have a mishmash of humanity that’s hard to make sense of. So we’ll just group them all together and see what we have. That might not be fair to David Rundblad, but I don’t think he’s going to come and plead his case, and I also doubt he’s going to be a mainstay in the lineup anyway. But we’ll start with him.

David Rundblad – We know Stan is going to force feed him into the lineup and give himself every chance to justify giving up a second round pick for him for… reasons. That doesn’t mean Rundblad is going to have the inside track on the #6 spot, because Q will eat his entire cigar collection if that were to happen.

When I look real hard, I think I can see what Stan sees in Rundblad. He does have a big shot. He does get it through. He does make a nice pass when he gets time. But that’s the caveat. “When he gets time.” Runds needs about five minutes to make that pass. Or get that shot off. And while he does have instincts on how to get into open ice and free himself up, he doesn’t have the feet to get him there in time.

It’s like Rundblad’s skills and skates are mismatched. He wants to play a puck-moving, aggressive game, but he’s got free safety feet. I can’t think of an offensive d-men who couldn’t skate really well. I thought it was Anton Stralman, but after watching him for six games in June he’s a far better skater than Rundblad. Combine that with Rundblad’s defensive allergies, his lack of physical stability when engaged along the boards, and it’s really hard to say what it is, in fact, that Rundblad gives you.

Jan Hejda – One of the intriguing names on the invitee list. Hejda was horribly miscast as a top pairing d-man the past couple seasons in Denver, partnered with the similarly though not as badly overmatched Erik Johnson (and yes, EJ is on my dream deadline pickup list to solidify the second pairing, because that’s exactly what he is). I look back on all the times Avs fans told me Hejda was underrated and could carry out that role and my abs hurt from laughing.

Here, where he would be no more than a third pairing meatbag, would seem to fit his profile. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, and in fact he might not do anything you’d even notice. But that’s what a third pairing guy is supposed to do. He could be what Rozsival was last year, though with probably a little better mobility.

Lubomir Visnovsky – We went over this yesterday, and if the Hawks want a third puck mover he’s a sneaky candidate. But his age and questionable brain-state raise some huge red flags. He hasn’t come anywhere close to a full season in full years, so you’d have to have a backup plan if he were to make the team.

Viktor Svedberg – The only defensive prospect they haven’t traded. Svedberg was actually closer to dressing in the Final than a lot of people realized, and only didn’t when TVR proved he could still intake oxygen. The thing is, after reading all the reports out of Rockford, I’m not sure what Svedberg does other than be 6-8. Perhaps we’ll find out, but would fit in the third pairing meatbag role I guess.

Ville Pokka – I’m going to list him, as I think he has a chance to be the training camp darling that always seems to pop up at this time. And much like Rundblad, Stan would love to showcase his acquisition from the Leddy trade. Pokka fits the puck-mover mold, though not as flashy as Leddy, But his floor isn’t as low either, as his all-around game is continually described as solid and smart. If he doesn’t make the team out of camp, I suspect we’ll see him up during the season when injuries hit at some point.

Michal Rozsival – I don’t even know why I’m bothering with any of this, we all know this is the third pairing meatbag even though he’s going to have all the mobility of Napoleon in his current state (too soon?).

Kyle Cumiskey – Didn’t we learn? As Feather has pointed out, if you have a solid top five, or more to the point a really good top five, you can carry a Cumiskey around for 10-12 minutes per night. It’s what Brett Lebda was for Detroit. But the Hawks only have 3/5ths of a top five, so this is right out.

  • Sopel the catfish

    At least there aren’t any Matt Walker’s showing up. Saw his name the other day after Simon Gagne retired, since Gagne was traded from Philly to TB for Walker and a draft pick.

  • Preacher

    Can Rozy even skate? He had a nasty bone break and surgery, what, 4 months ago? And it was his foot/ankle/leg area–kind of key for skating. I can’t imagine he’d be anywhere near ready to play competitive hockey.

  • Matt

    Unless I missed an article you posted, I think you forgot Erik Gustafsson. I’ve seen a few places that have spoken highly of him, and there at least seems to be a chance he’ll crack the lineup.

    • jordyhawk

      He listed at 176 so he is certainly small enough. PMD.

  • jordyhawk

    A bottom pairing guy can get away with being slow if he is smart. Runblad however, seems to have poor instincts which is where he gets killed. What gets me is he was resigned with a raise and for 2 years. Stan seems determined to inflict this guy on us. Maybe Q should give him a lot of ice so that he either steps up or it becomes so obvious that he can’t deliver that he is moved out.