Opportunity likely awaits Hawks' Rundblad


Here's what you need to know about defenseman David Rundblad -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman attempted to trade for him multiple times over the last few seasons.

Bowman first tried during the 2013 season, and the Arizona Coyotes didn't budge. Bowman tried again last offseason, and the Coyotes again weren't interested. Finally, Bowman was able to obtain the 23-year-old Rundblad by trading a second-round pick in the 2014 draft for him and prospect defenseman Mathieu Brisebois on March 4.

Rundblad didn't get much of a chance to showcase his game after arriving to the Blackhawks. He played in just five regular-season games and was a healthy scratch throughout the playoffs. Considering what Bowman gave up to get him and how much Bowman values his upside, Rundblad is likely to see the ice more with the Blackhawks next season.

"I think he's an example of a young player who's ready for an opportunity," Bowman said recently at the NHL draft. "He's in that age bracket where he's 23, 24 years old. I think he just needs an opportunity for us. He's got a ton of talent. He's got a little more familiarity with our system now.

"It's tough when he came in at the trade deadline. He didn't get a lot of games, but everything is new in terms of how we play, what the coaches are looking for. Now he comes into training camp, he's way ahead of where he was back in March, so I would expect that to be a benefit for him. He understands the style of our team, what our coaches like and what they want him to do, and I think he's going to have a comfort level so it's good for a player like that to come in and have a chance."

The Blackhawks have seven defensemen, including Rundblad, signed for next season. If the roster remains the same heading into the season, Rundblad could rotate into the lineup just as Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival have done the past two seasons. Rozsival is also returning next season. Brookbank is an unrestricted free agent.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Rundblad plays a different game than Brookbank. Rundblad is best known for his offensive ability. He had 11 goals and 39 assists in 55 games in the Swedish Elite League during the 2010-11 season before arriving in the NHL.

Rundblad made his NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators during the 2011-12 season and has been up and down in the NHL and AHL since then. He's played in 55 NHL games and 86 AHL games over the past three seasons.

Rundblad was hopeful after joining the Blackhawks he would get a chance to play and eventually flourish.

"This is kind of a fresh start for me," Rundblad said in March. "I didn't really get a good opportunity in Phoenix. I felt like something had to happen because I need to play games."

While that didn't happen under Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville last season, Quenneville was optimistic Rundblad would play a larger role next season.

"He's part of our group," Quenneville said at the NHL draft. "He didn't get much of a chance, not much at all really. But there's some upside there. ... Hopefully we can get that out of him and get him stabilize where he can prove he can be a regular defenseman in our league."