A day after losing starting goalie Corey Crawford for two to three weeks and being forced to sign an emergency net minder to serve as the team’s backup, the Chicago Blackhawks have made a move to hopefully solidify the position. The team has called up Lars Johansson from Rockford of the AHL to support Scott Darling between the pipes. In a corresponding move, Chicago reassigned rookie center Nick Schmaltz to Rockford. The related transactions were originally relayed by Tracy Myers of CSN Chicago via Twitter.
Crawford of course was diagnosed yesterday morning with appendicitis and underwent an emergency appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital. Recovery times can vary but the Hawks at this point expect to be without the services of the soon-to-be-32-year-old for up to three weeks.
In desperate need of someone to backup Darling yesterday just hours before puck-drop, the Blackhawks inked Eric Semborski to an ATO. Semborski was a club player at Temple University and currently serves as a youth hockey coach in the Philadelphia area. While he didn’t get into the game, head coach Joel Quennville did say that he would have put Semborski in late had the Flyers scored a late empty-net goal to put the game out of reach.
Johansson is an interesting story. Already 29, he spent the first 10 seasons of his professional career playing in his native Sweden. An outstanding performance in 2015-16 while playing for Frolunda prompted Chicago to bring Larsson to North America to help add organizational depth between the pipes. Larsson went 27-6-0 with a 1.74 GAA and a Save % of 0.927% while leading Frolunda to the 2016 Swedish League championship. In 16 games with Rockford, he has a record of 6-7-1 with a 2.63 GAA and a Save % of 0.911%.
Schmaltz tallied one goal and four points in 26 games in his first professional campaign. The reassignment of Schmaltz leaves the Hawks perilously thin at forward with just 12 healthy bodies on the roster, though it does sound as if Jonathan Toews should be back in the lineup soon which will alleviate that issue.
The Hawks find themselves in this tight spot due to their proximity to the salary cap ceiling. By rule the team could have used former NHL net minder and current goalie coach for Chicago, Jimmy Waite, as the backup yesterday but as a former professional, Chicago would have had to have paid him a salary. With the team possessing less than $500K in space, they simply couldn’t have done so while remaining cap compliant.