The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t come into the summer with many questions. Their Stanley Cup winning roster from 2013 remained mostly intact, a sharp contrast from their previous title, and the holes that they did have would be filled by young players from their deep farm system.
One of the questions that the Hawks did actually have was who would end up replacing Michael Frolik on the penalty kill in 2013-14. If you remember, Frolik teamed up with Marcus Kruger to give the Hawks one of the best PK forward pairings in the game.
The Blackhawks dealt Frolik this summer, as his contract didn’t match up with what he brought to the table offensively, as impressive as he was in filling the role in which he found his niche. Which left the Hawks in need of a young replacement for him heading into the new season.
Surprisingly, that replacement has been found not in one of the more notable prospects in the system, such as Ben Smith, but by a lesser known quantity, in Joakim Nordstrom. After a strong preseason, Nordstrom will break camp with the Hawks and team up with Kruger on the PK.
The initial expectation was that Nordstrom would start out as a role player in the AHL, if not lower. His impressive preseason performance changed that. Nordstrom doesn’t present great offensive upside, but he’s a capable player with decent size, though he could stand to add a bit of extra meat to his 6’2″ frame.
Nordstrom isn’t going to skate big minutes with the Blackhawks this season. It remains to be seen if he’ll even latch on for the entire year. As of right now, though, he’s coming in to fill a specific role on the penalty kill. If he can fare as well as Michael Frolik did last year, he’ll be a solid addition to the mix and will help the Hawks remain one of the better penalty killing teams in the league.