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Chicago Blackhawks


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Chicago Blackhawks

Post by jedi17 on Fri 19 May 2017, 7:56 pm

Hawks in on Rutta
May 19, 2017, 9:35 AM ET [116 Comments]
John Jaeckel
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSS • Archive • CONTACT

As speculated elsewhere in the last couple of weeks, I received a tip yesterday from a source close to the team that the Blackhawks are in serious pursuit of Czech league defenseman Jan Rutta—along with at least a handful of other teams.

I heard further this morning that Rutta may make a decision within the next day or two—choosing either an NHL club or to stay in the Czech Republic (which remains a possibility).

Rutta is 26, a right-handed shooting, puck-moving defenseman with good size (6’2”, 200) , who has put up solid numbers in the Czech pro league.

I won’t pretend to know with certainty which side he plays, or prefers to play, but it’s likely the right side—currently manned by Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk.

So this might raise questions or spur rumors about the Hawks’ plans this summer. And while there could be a cause and effect relationship there, the Hawks’ interest in Rutta may be rooted (I swear to the Almighty, no pun intended) in an overall desire to add NHL- or near NHL-ready athletes with upside, to develop, and nothing more.

Over the years, Hawk GM Stan Bowman and his predecessor Dale Tallon have had some decent luck mining the European pro leagues. In 2008, Tallon unearthed Antti Niemi, who backstopped the Hawks to a Stanley Cup in 2010 (regardless of what you may think of him today). These efforts have since brought Artemi Panarin and Michal Kempny to Chicago.

Kempny is an interesting comparator for Rutta. Both are obviously Czech blueliners. But more telling, both are in their mid-20s, with a solid resume’ of Euro pro experience and international play. And both have never played in North America (prior to Kempny coming to Chicago).

Kempny showed this past season that he has high NHL-quality athletic ability—but that he also needed and still needs experience playing the NHL game on a smaller ice sheet. The same may hold true with Rutta.

The Hawks added another Czech, forward David Kampf earlier this Spring. Kampf is 22.

At the same time, there have been rumors the Hawks pursued other Euro free agents this summer—who went elsewhere. Two straight seasons of first round defeats may have taken some of the edge off the Hawks’ recruiting, yet they also seem to have developed some solid “cultures” on their NHL roster of Czechs (Kempny and Michal Rozsival), Slovaks (Marian Hossa, Richard Panik, and Tomas Jurco), Russians (Panarin, Artem Anisimov) and Swedes (Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Dennis Rasmussen, and possible new assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson).

The point here?

After years of drafting at the bottom of every round, or having given up picks for aggressive moves at the trade deadline, the Hawks may be moving harder East—toward Europe—for talent exploration and development. And the possible addition of Samuelsson to the NHL staff may be a further indicator.

It’s a smart move. Will it pay off? Remains to be seen. But Rutta may not be the last European target for Chicago this summer either.

I will report more on this as I hear it,

    Current date/time is Sat 26 May 2018, 1:02 am