Chicago Blackhawks forward Victor Ejdsell will make his NHL debut tonight in front of the United Center faithful, as the Hawks host the San Jose Sharks.
Ejdsell, a Swedish forward, was acquired by the Blackhawks from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Ryan Hartman. Hartman was the Blackhawks’ first round draft pick in 2013, and was picked 30th overall in that draft.
Ejdsell, who is listed at six feet, 5 inches and 214 pounds, was actually a Blackhawks target from the last off-season. Ejdsell, however, at the time decided to sign with Nashville. He ended his SHL season on March 14, putting up 34 points (20 goals, 14 assists) for his team, HV. Prior to this season, the Karlstad, Sweden native was named Most Valuable Player for Allsvenskan, the Swedish second league. He made his AHL debut for the Rockford Ice Hogs on March 23, earning an assist in a 5-3 Rockford loss to the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate of his former team.
Ejdsell skated at warmups this morning, centering the top line with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. His call up coincides with the arrival of newly minted Blackhawk Dylan Sikura, who may draw into the lineup as early as this Thursday versus the Winnipeg Jets.
The arrivals of Ejdsell and Sikura, the signing of Finnish defenseman Joni Tuulola, and the rumored pursuit of German center Dominik Kahun, signifies the beginning of the youth movement with the Blackhawks. This movement, along with the progression of Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza, David Kampf, Erik Gustafsson, Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta, furthers along an influx of speed, skill and high hockey IQ that the Blackhawks will need in order to keep their Stanley Cup window open for years to come.
The stream of young, new talent, and coupling it with the skill and veteran experience of the “core” (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brandon Saad, Corey Crawford) also indicates that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is not at all looking to “rebuild” this team, but rather will be “retooling” it to keep pace with the rest of the NHL, something that the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings did when they went through their own struggles of making it to the playoffs.
The Blackhawks may not be headed to the big dance this year, but the fact that they are beginning to showcase some of their new additions will make for an interesting last few games of the season, and will also give us Hawks fans something to be optimistic about, as we face the longest off season we have had in quite some time.