By Chris Block
On Monday, the Chicago Blackhawks traded a 7th round draft pick in 2013 to the Calgary Flames in exchange for 29-year old goaltender Henrik Karlsson.
The Stockholm, Sweden native served as Miikka Kiprusoff’s backup in Calgary during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Over that span, Karlsson appeared in 26 games posting a record of 5-9-8 with a 90.5% save percentage and a 2.79 goals against average. Karlson was 1-4-2 last season in Calgary. His only victory came on the final day of the regular season and he posted a 3.17 GAA and 90.0% save percentage in his nine appearances overall.
The Blackhawks then immediately assigned Karlsson to their AHL affiliate, Rockford IceHogs. The pick used by Chicago general manager Stan Bowman in this deal is one he had previously acquired from Ottawa on December 2, 2011 when the Blackhawks traded forward Rob Klinkhammer (who was struggling mightily in Rockford at the time) to the Senators for a 7th round pick.
The 6 foot 6 inch Henrik Karlsson is expected to be in Rockford this week and suited up for the IceHogs next game on Friday when Rockford plays host to the Chicago Wolves.
We’ll know more soon, but it seems as though there is concern Rockford has an immediate need for a dependable AHL goaltender.
Karlsson joins Carter Hutton, 27, and Alec Richards, 25, on the IceHogs roster.
Blackhawks prospect, and 2010 second-round pick, Kent Simpson had been reassigned by the Blackhawks to Rockford from ECHL-affiliate Toledo Walleye on Sunday.
Simpson started in Rockford on Monday afternoon in a 6-3 loss to the visiting Texas Stars. The IceHogs blew a 3-0 lead in the game and Simpson surrendered 5 goals against 34 shots. Alec Richards allowed 5 goals against 13 Grand Rapids shots on Saturday night and looked like a fish out of water in relief of Carter Hutton.
Carter Hutton potentially faces suspension for his part in a bench-clearing brawl with the Grand Rapids Griffins this past Saturday night in Rockford. Hutton sprinted across the ice to fight Griffins’ netminder Petr Mrazek. Hutton peppered Mrazek with a series of hard right hands.
There is no guarantee Hutton will be suspended. Earlier this season Binghamton and Syracuse goaltenders Robin Lehner and Riku Helenius were involved in a fight. In that altercation, back on October 20th, Helenius left his crease to go down to the Binghamton zone where Lehner was whacking Syracuse players after taking exceptions to those Crunch players making contact in and crowding his crease. Lehner was given the aggressor penalty and a game misconduct. Helenius, of course, was cited for fighting and leaving his crease. However, neither player received further discipline or suspension. The difference in this case being that the Hutton-Mrazek fight was a secondary altercation.
Originally it appeared Simpson’s recall was made in anticipation of the AHL possibly handing out suspensions prior to Monday’s game. That would have put Rockford in a precarious position for Monday afternoon’s game – potentially playing a game without a backup goaltender.
However, Hutton wasn’t held out of Monday’s game by the league.
Simpson started and Hutton did not dress. Alec Richards was Simpson’s back up.
The ramifications of Saturday night’s brawl are not expected to be decided on and made official by the American Hockey League until Tuesday. Three of the eight IceHogs ejected Saturday night did not play on Monday. Those three were Hutton, Rob Flick and Shawn Lalonde.
The lone IceHogs player held out of Monday afternoon’s game by the AHL was forward Rob Flick, who the on-ice officials on Saturday determined was the first player off the bench for Rockford. In accordance to league rules, Flick was immediately reported to AHL President Dave Andrews and receives a mandatory, automatic suspension pending further review by the President.
Flick will receive a minimum suspension of 6 games in accordance to rule 70.3. Flick served the first game of whatever length the league ultimately decides on (likely 6 games) on Monday. If, after further video review, it is determined Flick was not the first player to jump the bench, his suspension could be shorter. And as noted in the linked post above, three Grand Rapids players were the first from either player’s bench to jump the boards and get involved. Yet, not one of those Griffins were ejected, nor did they receive a penalty for their involvement in the brawl.
Defenseman Shawn Lalonde, also involved and ejected for his role in Saturday’s brawl, was also held out of Monday’s game against Texas. Lalonde, though, has been scratched numerous times already this season because of minor injuries, as well as coach’s decisions. Brett Lebda, scratched for the previous four games, took Lalonde’s place in the lineup on Monday. The other five IceHogs ejected Saturday; Wade Brookbank, Philippe Paradis, Kenndal McArdle, and Adam Clendening all dressed in Monday’s matinee loss to Texas.
Kyle Beach also stands to get hit hard by the league as he was the aggressor and partially ignited Saturday night’s brawl when he jumped Griffins’ forward Riley Sheahan immediately off a center-ice face off just after Grand Rapids took a 6-3 lead thirty-two minutes into the game. Three Grand Rapids players jumped the bench to get to the aid of Sheahan after Beach pummeled the former college star at Notre Dame to the ice and continued to pound away at Sheahan as Sheahan laid prone on the ice.
Carter Hutton has started all 33 games he’s appeared in for the IceHogs this season. He has started 80.5% of Rockford’s games, going 16-13-1-1 with a 90.3% save percentage and a 2.73 goals against average.
Hutton’s season turned a corner in late November, along with the rest of the IceHogs, in late November. Since then, Hutton has been consistently good to even better for stretches of 4-5 games. That is typically then followed up by a forgettable performance – like the 6 goals allowed against 21 Grand Rapids shots prior to his ejection on Saturday.
It has been 11 months since Hutton signed a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s 28-17-1-3 with a 91.5% save percentage and a 2.35 goals against as property of the Blackhawks.
Hutton is a universally popular player in the IceHogs locker room and has been the number one goalie in Rockford since December 3, 2011 when he was recalled from Toledo to replace Alexander Salak, who had suffered a high ankle sprain in a game the night before.
Karlsson had been exposed on NHL waivers by Calgary on Thursday (Jan 17) along with another Flames goaltender, Leland Irving. Both players cleared through waivers. So, at least as of Friday morning, the Blackhawks had no interest in Karlsson.
Earlier on Monday, prior to trade with the Blackhawks being consummated, Karlsson had been reassigned by Calgary to their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, British Columbia.