The Chicago Blackhawks have added to their coaching staff as well as their blue line this morning. Ulf Samuelsson, who spent this past season with the Charlotte Checkers (the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes), has been added to the staff to fill the vacated role of the fired Mike Kitchen. Before he was head coach of the Charlotte Checkers, Samuelsson was an assistant coach with the Rangers for three seasons. Samuelsson should help with the defense as well as the abhorrent penalty kill Blackhawks fans loved last season.
The Blackhawks also added Czech defenseman Jan Rutta this morning on a one year deal. Rutta, spent the last few seasons with Pirati Chomutov of the Czech Extraliga. This past season Rutta registered career highs in assists (24) and points (32). Rutta is a right-handed shot who should compete right away for playing time, especially if the Blackhawks lose Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft. According to Stan Bowman via the Blackhawks Twitter account, “Jan has been on our radar for a number of years and he has shown great progress on the ice during that time.”
The Blackhawks have had a tremendous amount of success in the past when it comes to signing European free agents. They signed Jan Rutta this morning, fellow Czech forward David Kampf earlier this year, and Michal Kempny last summer. Let’s not forget that one signing that seems to have really paid off. What’s his name again? Oh yeah Artemi Panarin. The Blackhawks are forced to look for talent in other places due to the looming salary cap crunch that seems to happen every off-season, who will it claim this year?