The Chicago Blackhawks are searching for answers on defense and might turn to a familiar face for help. David Rundblad, the oft-maligned blue liner who was loaned to a Swiss team for much of the 2015-16 season, could play in the Hawks' first-round series against the St. Louis Blues.
Q no Rundblad: "I told him to be ready to get into the series today." #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 19, 2016
It was initially believed that Quenneville meant Rundblad would be playing in Game 4, but he was ultimately scratched in favor of Erik Gustafsson. However, the door seems to remain open for Rundblad to make his return to the lineup after being away since the beginning of 2016.
It might've been easy to forget that Rundblad was even around. The 25-year-old appeared in nine games with Chicago earlier this season, then was loaned to ZSC Lions in Switzerland in early January. The Lions got knocked out early in the Swiss league's playoffs, however, and Rundblad returned to the Blackhawks recently.
Now he might get a chance to play, which comes as a surprise given that we basically had not heard his name in weeks. The Hawks haven't gotten great play from their depth defenseman, though, and it appears Joel Quenneville wants to see whether Rundblad can give him more than the alternatives were.
"He was always fine," Quenneville said Tuesday, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "He’s got real good play recognition, patience with the puck, he’s positionally fine. It’s in the puck area, defending around the net, that he has to get better at. He’s a good puck mover, has good feel for the game on the offensive point. Around the net, I think he’s made inroads and improvement in that area. He’s come back here, and he looks better."
If Rundblad has made genuine improvement in terms of defending and positioning over the past several months, maybe he could help out. The former first-round pick always had the size and offensive ability to be an intriguing prospect. There would definitely some risk in sending him out there only to discover that he's the same guy he always was, but it seems the Hawks are considering the possibility.