VANCOUVER, British Columbia — What do the Blackhawks do with Rostislav Olesz?
That’s been the question since the former first-round was pick was acquired in a salary-swap with the Florida Panthers for defenseman Brian Campbell.
General manager Stan Bowman said it was a matter of finding exactly where Olesz, once a highly regarded winger with possibly top-six potential, fits with the Hawks. Right now, it looks like nowhere.
Olesz was placed on waivers Wednesday. If he is not picked up by another team, the Hawks have the option of sending Olesz to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. He wasn’t with the Hawks for their morning skate in Vancouver on Wednesday.
Olesz said before the season that his best hockey was yet to come. But he’s been a healthy scratch in 12 of the Hawks’ 18 games this season, including 11 in a row. With Dave Bolland hurt, Olesz played the last four games primarily on the fourth line.
Since playing 11:22 against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 8, his ice time decreased every game. He played only 7:15 in the Hawks’ 6-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. There’s been little productivity from Olesz, who carries a cap hit of more than $3 million.
Olesz accompanied the Hawks to Vancouver and practiced with them Tuesday. But with Bolland returning from his hit foot injury for Wednesday’s game against the Canucks, Olesz would have likely been a healthy scratch for the 13th time this season. He was a minus-1 in six games with six penalty minutes.
“He didn’t get a ton of opportunities,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “His opportunity was limited, but I guess sometimes you earn your opportunity as you go a long here. His production, you could say he hasn’t produced probably at the rate — and I’m not necessarily just talking production — but his overall game, maybe we were looking for more.”
Do the Hawks plan to recall a player and maintain a 23-man roster?
“We’ll see,” Quenneville said. “That’s an option.”