Despite his assurances on Monday that he is completely healthy, the Chicago Blackhawks took out an extra insurance policy on goaltender Corey Crawford on Wednesday, bringing up keeper Alexander Salak from Rockford. Ray Emery has also been feeling under the weather, so the goalie lineup for the Hawks going into Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets is anyone’s guess at this point.
In addition to the call-up of Salak, word also came down that Brandon Saad, who had impressed the team’s brass with his excellent preseason performance, had been sent back to Saginaw of the OHL. He will remain there for the rest of the year and work to refine his game, but in his short stint with the team he proved that he likely is going to be one of the biggest steals of the 2011 Draft, having gone with the 43rd overall selection in the second round.
Salak’s call-up is due in part to Crawford suffering from a lower body ailment. He was bothered by a sore groin toward the end of the preseason, but the Hawks insist that it is not the same injury that is hindering him now. He seemed optimistic when asked Monday about his prospects for practicing yesterday, but he did not and did return to the ice today. His status for Thursday’s game is uncertain.
Meanwhile, Emery has been dealing with an illness, and is considered day-to-day by the team. With both of their goaltenders suffering maladies, it was the logical move to recall Salak, who was the odd man out in the goaltender derby that took place this preseason. In his brief stint in Rockford, Salak has yet to see the ice as Alec Richards has gotten both starts. He played respectably during the preseason, so he will obviously be looking to make an impression on the team to show them that they made the wrong choice in going with the veteran Emery.
Saad, who virtually no one predicted would make the team out of camp, earned his way onto the roster by displaying some incredible speed and a great nose for the puck. While that hasn’t resulted in a scoring boom for the youngster, it did earn him an entry level contract with the team, and he looked solid in the team’s first two games against the Dallas Stars.
With the return of Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith looming on the horizon, it was clear that there wasn’t going to be enough room on the roster for Saad, and so the decision was made to cut the cord. Starting in his place on Thursday night will either be Daniel Carcillo, who is returning from a suspension, or Rostislav Olesz, who looked great this preseason but was a scratch on Saturday night for the home opener.
The next Hawk likely on the chopping block for assignment will likely be either Salak when Crawford and Emery are back and healthy, or Marcus Kruger, who was called up in place of Brandon Pirri after the season opener on Friday. The team is slowly starting to get all of its regular players back, and so the youngsters who gave so much hope for the future will slowly filter back to Rockford, eagerly awaiting that next call.
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