Blackhawks hope David Kampf can give them a depth charge down the middle

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David Kampf controls the puck next to Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall during a preseason game on Sept. 28. (AP Photo)

VANCOUVER — Goaltender Jeff Glass was the last one to reach the center-ice huddle at the end of Thursday’s morning skate at Rogers Arena, but Joel Quenneville looked right at David Kampf and sent him on the customary solo lap around the rink.

As he rounded the far goal and turned back up ice for his “punishment,” Kampf had a big smile on his face.

“I’m really happy,” Kampf said via interpreter Jan Rutta. “I wasn’t expecting [to be called up]. I’m just really happy to be here.”

The 22-year-old Kampf isn’t simply here to be an extra warm body on a lengthy road trip, either. He’ll be in the lineup, centering Patrick Sharp and Alex DeBrincat on the third line against the Vancouver Canucks. The Hawks have precious little depth down the middle — Vinnie Hinostroza and Tommy Wingels are both natural wingers, and Nick Schmaltz has been more effective on the wing —so the Hawks turned to Kampf, an undrafted free agent they signed out of the Czech Republic in May.

Kampf had seven goals and nine assists in 30 games with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs this season. Quenneville said Kampf could see time on the penalty kill, and that he brings speed, solid defense, and some offensive potential to the lineup.

“We liked him in training camp,” Quenneville said. “We wanted to keep him playing and see how he worked [in Rockford], and he did a good job. … We like his speed, and he should give us some enthusiasm.”

Kampf said he hasn’t had much trouble adjusting to the North American style of play, though he acknowledged it’s more of a chip-and-chase style than he was used to in Europe. He doesn’t speak a lot of English, but knows enough that he can understand most of what he hears. It helps having Rutta, a teammate of his in the Czech Republic, around — both for interpreting and for a confidence boost. After all, Rutta has proven that it’s not an impossible leap to go from the Czech league to the NHL.

“He’s just got to play his game and be confident in himself,” Rutta said. “David is a great player and if he plays the way he’s supposed to play, he’ll be fine.”

Forsling returns

Gustav Forsling was a fifth-round draft pick of the Canucks in 2014, and when he came over from Sweden for a development camp in the mountains at Whistler that summer, he started to picture himself in a Canucks jersey some day.

“It’s where I wanted to play, and it’s what I dreamed of,” he said.

So when the Canucks sent him to the Blackhawks for Adam Clendening in January of 2015 —a trade that worked out a heck of a lot better for Chicago than Vancouver — Forsling was caught off guard. Not that he’s complaining two years later.

“I was surprised I got traded,” he said. “I was back home in Sweden, and I didn’t even think I could get traded. But it worked out really well, obviously.”

Roster report

Hinostroza and Richard Panik were the odd men out of the lineup. Quenneville wanted to get Kampf in at center, and hoped Patrick Sharp and Alex DeBrincat could rekindle their early season chemistry. That left Hinostroza out. As for Panik, Quenneville is still trying to light a fire under him. Panik hasn’t scored an even-strength goal since the third game of the season.

“There’s some guys up front [for whom] the production’s been down, and he’s definitely one of them,” Quenneville said.

Defenseman Cody Franson is still on injured reserve, but has been skating with the Hawks for a couple of weeks now. Quenneville said he’s “close to coming back.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus


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