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Blackhawks recall Nick Schmaltz, Tanner Kero from AHL

Vinnie Hinostroza and Gustav Forsling will remain in Rockford for now.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forwards Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero from the AHL, the team announced Thursday. Schmaltz, Kero, Vinnie Hinostroza, and Gustav Forsling were reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs earlier in the week while the Hawks have been off the ice.

Now Schmaltz and Kero are back, as the only reason they were demoted was salary cap purposes. It sounds like Hinostroza and Forsling will stay with the IceHogs for now, however, which isn’t particularly surprising given they played in Rockford’s last game while the other two rookies were scratched.

Beyond the benefit of added AHL playing time for Hinostroza and Forsling, having them down in Rockford also has cap advantages. The Blackhawks only have 22 players on their active roster right now, instead of the 23-man max, and they’ll continue “banking” cap space during that time.

According to estimates from Cap Friendly, the Blackhawks will have have enough space to acquire a player worth with an annual cap hit of up to $4.19 million at the trade deadline. Alternatively, they’re on pace for roughly $932,000 in year-end salary cap space right now, which could be used to pay performance bonuses at the end of the season and decrease their cap overage.

If there’s any downside to leaving Hinostroza in the AHL, it’s that Andrew Desjardins or Jordin Tootoo will have to be in the lineup every night. Given how poorly they’ve played this season, don’t be surprised if the Hawks add another forward soon, whether that’s Hinostroza, Tyler Motte, or someone acquired via trade.