Should The Blackhawks Call Ben Smith Up From Rockford?

As of Wednesday, all signs point to the Blackhawks adding Ben Smith to their NHL roster within the next couple days.

The first was the placing of Rostislav Olesz on waivers. That move came as a surprise to very few, as it looks like Olesz is Rockford bound. However, that also led to the question of whether or not the Hawks would leave the roster at 22, rather than call up someone to ride the pine pony.

Then there was the fact that Smith was a  healthy scratch for the Icehogs on Wednesday. Given his torrid stretch recently, there’s no other reason that I can think of for Smith to be scratched, other than for a callup.

But as popular as it might be with the fans, is calling up Ben Smith the right thing for the Blackhawks to do?

As it stands right now, their top six is locked in. Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp are cemented in there, and it looks as if Joel Quenneville plans to keep Dan Carcillo and Viktor Stalberg up there for now as well.

On the third line, Dave Bolland isn’t moving, despite starting Wednesday’s victory over the Canucks centering the fourth unit. And it’s impossible to think that Michael Frolik would be moving down. To Bolland’s left, Andrew Brunette could stay, or Bryan Bickell could decide to wake up and rejoin the “Rat Pack”.

Essentially, what the Hawks would be looking at is calling Smith up to be a fourth line player, if he’s even in the lineup at all. With Brunette or Bickell on the fourth line, Jamal Mayers on the right, and Marcus Kruger in the middle, there looks to be no room for Smith. And it’s not as if anyone, save Bickell, is looking to relinquish their roster spot, especially with the team rolling.

Last year, Ben Smith was a great story. He proved he can hang in the NHL and is afraid of very little. His overtime goal in Game 6 of first round against Vancouver last season has left many clamoring for him to return to the lineup. But, at least as of right now, it’s not a fit.

Smith is doing well for himself in Rockford. He has 10 points in nine games, including six goals. With the Blackhawks’ lineup pretty well set for now, pending another injury, why call him up? Leave him in Rockford and let him get the playing time that he deserves.

It’s certainly a move that could make some sense down the line for the Blackhawks, if Bickell continues to perform poorly, or Stalberg falls off the face of the earth, but at this moment in time, it makes more sense for the Hawks to just leave Smith with the Icehogs, as painful as that might be for many to admit.

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  • Karen Noto

    I have to disagree that Smith is not a fit on this team. I want him brought up, and with the timing of Olesz being put on waivers and the scratching of Smith in Rockford, it certainly looks like Benny is ready to catch a plane West!
    If he is recalled, I would put him on the 1st with Toews and Hoss (he already has good chemistry with the captain from last season and from camp) replacing Stalberg. Stally has monster wheels for sure, but is just so often unable to finish on great chances he gets from that speed. He is streaky…shows up for a few games and then disappears.
    The other option would be to put Smith on the 2nd with Kaner and put CarBomb on the 4th.
    I have been watching Smith play in Rockford, and the kid isn’t afraid to mix it up, and he just doesn’t stay down. He gets hit over and over and keeps coming back. I love what Carcillo has brought so far this year, but I think it could be time to give Smith that look on one of the top lines. Carcillo looks great playing with Mayers and Kruger.
    Bickell is the odd man out if Smith comes up. He has shown very little jump to his game since that 3rd line success early in the season, and he just looks kinda lazy out there. Maybe some time on the bench will renew his drive to play to his potential, using his big body (which he doesn’t).
    I have been a fan of the Hawks for 40 years and am a hockey coach myself, so I have a bit of insight into what might be in the minds of Stan at this point. The Hawks are #1 in the league and that is a spot they don’t want to give up anytime soon. They are on an extended road trip, and could use a young gun in there to help mix things up.
    The timing of Olesz being waived was very suspect and I knew right away that there was either a big trade in the works or that someone (either Smith, Morin or Pirri) were going to be recalled. Once Smith was a healthy scratch in Rockford, that pretty much told me what Stan was thinking.
    Smith fits more than fine on this team. I can’t wait to see him play, and hope that Q gives him a chance on the one of the top lines instead of putting him on the 4th with limited minutes,
    If the team starts to struggle at all, I think we may see more of this, depending on how this experiment goes. As much as I like him, I think that John Scott (although much improved from last year) will be the next victim to be placed on waivers if the need arises. We could them be looking at a call up of Morin or Pirri.
    This is just my opinion. No one but Stan knows what his thinking is, but he pretty much tipped his hand when Smith was a healthy scratch.
    It can only make this team better!! Rusty was a ok player for the few games he got, but was not worth the huge cap hit. This gives the Hawks a great amount of cap money to make a move at the deadline (or before if necessary) and not have to shop in the clearance isle!!
    Nice moves so far, can’t wait to see how it plays out!!

    • Randy Holt

      I do agree that if anyone will be replaced by Smith, it’d be Bickell. He’s gone back to his lazy, passive ways that frustrated us all last season. The only reason I’m saying they shouldn’t call Smith up is because he’d essentially be stuck on the fourth line. I think Q wants Carcillo in the top six, and he’s giving Stalberg every opportunity to perform up there as well, and he has played pretty decent. Nonetheless, like we’ve both said, all signs point to Smith coming up very shortly, and it will be interesting to see if he picks up where he left off in that Vancouver series as far as his play.

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