Defenseman David Rundblad’s time with the Chicago Blackhawks could be over six months after signing a two-year, $2.1-million deal.
Rundblad, 25, has had a hard time cracking the Blackhawks lineup this season and has only suited up for nine games this season. Even when Duncan Keith fell injured, Rundblad was scratched in favor of AHL blueliners Erik Gustafsson and Niklas Svedberg. And when a spot could have been opened up for Rundblad with Trevor Daley traded away to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Rob Scuderi, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville went instead with the veteran Scuderi over the young, more mobile Rundblad.
Rundblad’s time in Chicago took a serious blow when he was placed on waivers by the Blackhawks on Dec. 28. After clearing waivers, the Blackhawks announced Wednesday that Rundblad would be demoted to the AHL, but it doesn’t appear the blueliner will be suiting up for the Rockford IceHogs.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, Rundblad could very well spend the rest of the campaign in Europe. Kuc’s report came the day of Rundblad’s demotion, but maybe more interesting was a conversation Tweeted out by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus. Following Rundblad’s demotion, Quenneville was asked if he saw the defenseman having a “long-term future” with the Blackhawks, to which Quenneville replied, “Tough to say.”
Though Rundblad was demoted to the IceHogs, he did not suit up for Rockford on the day of his demotion, and Quenneville would only offer Lazerus that the team would “see” about giving Rundblad time with the IceHogs. If Rundblad doesn’t skate with the IceHogs, his options might be limited to asking for his contract to be terminated or a possible loan to a European club.
Rundblad, a native of Sweden, has history overseas with SHL team Skelleftea. He played his junior and first few years of professional hockey with Skelleftea before coming over to the NHL. However, he might not be returning to Sweden.
A report from SwissHockeyNews.ch says that Rundblad’s likely destination could be ZSC Lions of the Swiss NLA. Zurich has played 34 of its 50 games this season and currently sit in first place in the NLA with 65 points. ZSC is coached by former NHL bench boss Marc Crawford and features players such as Auston Matthews, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Robert Nilsson.
Rundblad was a first-round pick, 17th overall, by the St. Louis Blues in 2009. He was later traded to the Ottawa Senators for a first-round pick that would become Vladimir Tarasenko, then to the Arizona Coyotes for Kyle Turris and, finally, to Chicago for the second-round pick used to select current Team USA U20 winger Christian Dvorak.