After clearing waivers today, Chris DiDomenico is on his way to Chicago. The Ottawa Senators have traded the forward to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Ville Pokka. Both players can immediately be sent to the minor leagues, since that was where they were assigned when the trade occurred.
DiDomenico was finally slipped through waivers after being claimed and then re-claimed by Tampa Bay and Ottawa earlier this season. With that came some flexibility, and Chicago has decided that was enough to pull the trigger to bring him into the Rockford picture. Whether he’ll get time at the NHL level is unclear, but he can now be moved up and down for the time being.
Pokka on the other hand has yet to make his NHL debut, and didn’t look likely to make it anytime soon for the Blackhawks. The 23-year old defenseman was selected 34th-overall by the New York Islanders in 2012, and has shown good offensive ability in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, that has come with a lot of struggles in the defensive end and a lack of any real consistency on the ice. That sort of wildcard is exactly the kind of risk Ottawa is willing to take as they try to build their club back up.
Interestingly, DiDomenico is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and won’t help the Blackhawks at the NHL level in any meaningful way unless they re-sign him (provided the team doesn’t go on an incredible hot streak and slip into the playoffs this season). Whatever value he’ll bring this season to Chicago or Rockford was apparently enough to give up on Pokka, who clearly had been passed over several times by other prospects in the organization. Pokka is a restricted free agent and could become a Group VI UFA in 2019 if he isn’t given an extended opportunity at the NHL level between now and then.