Gustav Forsling Signs a 3-Year Deal with the Blackhawks

Gustav Forsling (Photo by Bildbyrån/Stefan Persson)

CHICAGO — Anyone looking at the NHL Sports betting odds is keeping in mind the struggles the Chicago Blackhawks faced in the 2015-2016 season. And it is probably because of their lackluster showing as defending Stanley Cup champions that the Blackhawks are working so hard to improve their defense.

Whether or not their decision to sign defenseman Gustav Forsling (acquired from the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Adam Clendening) to an entry level contract will transform the team’s performance on the field remains to be seen.

Selected by the Canucks in the 2014 draft (the fifth round), the 19-year-old, 5-foot-11, 172-pound blueliner, who eventually moved to Chicago, has yet to play a season in North America.

Having compiled six goals and fifteen assists (as well as a plus-21 rating) in the 48 games he played last regular season, Forsling has spent his short career in Sweden with Linkopings HC, and his stats show a lot of promise, especially for Blackhawks fans that might be apprehensive about the signing.

Forsling played for Sweden’s national team in the last two World Junior Championship events, leading all defensemen and proving himself to be every bit the outstanding player.

Forsling isn’t the only young defenseman the Blackhawks have signed to an entry-level deal in recent times. Forsling’s Linkopings HC teammate, Carl Dahlstrom signed his deal in April, boasting a plus-11 rating in 50 games this regular season, a single recorded goal and seven assists.

This isn’t the first time Dahlstrom is playing on North American ice, though. The 21-year-old played a few games for the Rockford IceHogs earlier this year (between the regular season and the playoffs), netting one assist.

In April, the Blackhawks also brought Luke Johnson on board, signing him to an entry-level deal. The efforts the Blackhawks are taking to bolster their ranks are showing. With the recent trades purging a little depth, the powers that be clearly understand the importance of shoring up the team’s defense.

Forsling is particularly promising. While some fans think he could benefit from putting on a little more weight, he has shown the ability to quarterback a powerplay.

Undersized but exciting skating defensemen like Forsling do not come around too often, especially players that excel at the creative aspects of Hockey. Forsling has suffered from quite a few injuries, probably because of his small stature.

But, so long as he continues to display an innate ability to control the tempo and the flow of the game, manipulating the puck and distributing it in a timely fashion, he should deliver adequately.

The defenseman is obviously a work in progress, especially with regards to positional play at his end of the ice. No doubt, when faced with larger and stronger players, Forsling will be disadvantaged.

If Forsling is to stand any chance of cracking the Blackhawk’s lineup, mastering positional play will be key. Coach Joel Quenneville has shown in the past that he has little patience for such mistakes.

Forsling’s small size might become a source of frustration for the coach, especially if he doesn’t begin working to bulk up. For the moment, the Blackhawks have received Forsling with welcoming arms. Whether or not he will prove himself in the long run remains to be seen.