Monday, March 7, 2011
By Tracey Myers
SUNRISE, Fla. Chicago defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson did not practice on Monday morning but both are expected to play when the Blackhawks play the Florida Panthers here Tuesday night.
Keith sat out the last 15 minutes of the Blackhawks 5-3 victory in Toronto on Saturday night after blocking a shot off his right hand. He had the hand evaluated on Sunday.
Hjalmarsson, who leads the Blackhawks with 137 blocked shots this season, was likely taking a maintenance day.
Both are expected to play, coach Joel Quenneville said. They should be fine.
Meanwhile, forward Michael Frolik will face his former team for the first time since he was traded to the Blackhawks for Jack Skille on Feb. 9. Frolik has four points in his last three games. Skille is still out with an ankle injury. Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said Skille will be sidelined another 2-4 weeks.
Goaltender Corey Crawford will get his 12th consecutive start on Tuesday night.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.
The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Pokka played in all 76 regular-season games for the Rockford IceHogs last season, recording six goals and 24 assists.
The Blackhawks’ defensive depth has already taken a hit this offseason, with Niklas Hjalmarsson traded to Arizona – Connor Murphy came here in the deal – and Trevor van Riemsdyk, selected by the Vegas Golden Knights, then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. While the Blackhawks will probably explore free-agent options this offseason, Pokka could vie for an opportunity at training camp.
Dennis Rasmussen was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks, a source confirmed on Tuesday. Rasmussen will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Rasmussen was coming off a one-year deal worth $575,000. He was expected to be among those the Blackhawks extended qualifying offers – the deadline was Monday afternoon – but he was not.
The 26-year-old played 68 games for the Blackhawks this past season, recording four goals and four assists. He gave the Blackhawks some options, as he also played some wing and was part of the penalty kill. But he was a surprise healthy scratch more often than not as the regular season continued.
The Blackhawks will enter this season without Rasmussen and, if Marcus Kruger is traded, the team will have some holes to fill at center.