Blackhawks reassign Tyler Motte to AHL Rockford

The rookie slowed down over the past few weeks, and will join Nick Schmaltz in Rockford.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Tyler Motte has been reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, the team announced Tuesday. The move presumably signals the impending return of Marian Hossa, who should be ready to come off injured reserve soon following a couple weeks off.

Motte, 21, started his rookie year in strong fashion and found himself on the top line next to Jonathan Toews before long. That move didn’t last, however, and over the past few weeks, he’s struggled in a small year on the fourth line. In 33 games this season, Motte has just four goals and three assists.

The Blackhawks drafted Motte in the fourth round (No. 121 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. He emerged as star at the University of Michigan after being drafted, which earned him an NHL contract. He quickly moved up the ladder from there, but it seems like maybe he moved a tad too quickly

This is the second time Chicago has sent one of its top rookies down to the AHL this season. The team already demoted Nick Schmaltz, arguably the top prospect currently in the organization, to the IceHogs in December. Schmaltz has played well there with four goals (on 20 SOG) and an assist in seven games, and having Motte could give an added boost.

The Blackhawks will be sticking with Tanner Kero as an option for now, presumably because he’s capable of playing center. With Marcus Kruger out of the lineup, Chicago’s depth up the middle is punctured a bit. The team still has Jonathan Toews, Artem Anisimov, Dennis Rasmussen, and Andrew Desjardins, but Kero gives them a fifth player who can comfortable step in at center if one of the others has a problem.