The Chicago Blackhawks have two players with pricey contracts coming off of injuries this week. Steve Montador cleared waivers yesterday. Rumor has it that they have placed Rostislav Olesz on waivers Wednesday.
Montador is already headed for Rockford to start the process of getting his legs under him. He missed over a year of action following a concussion sustained in February of 2012. Is Olesz headed in the same direction, or do the 'Hawks have another plan in mind?
Montador's cap number is $2.75 million, most of which will count against the cap no matter where he plays the rest of this season. Olesz, whose $3.125 cap hit was buried in Rockford last season, played 50 games with the IceHogs.
If healthy and able to play regularly, these two players would be a boon to Rockford, who is fighting to make the playoffs this year. However, that's probably not the focus of the Blackhawks right now.
Montador needs to get some minutes and prove he's healthy enough to continue his career. Rockford is just the place to do it. A guy with over 500 games of NHL experience is going to do more than compete if Montador has put his concussion symptoms behind.
Olesz was an above-average player for the IceHogs in 2011-12 before injuring his knee on April 1. If sent to Rockford, Olesz could assume a similar role.
That might not happen because, at this time, it doesn't appear that the Blackhawks organization has any plans for Olesz at the NHL level. GM Stan Bowman is likely crossing his fingers that some other club snaps up the veteran winger. He probably isn't holding his breath.
One or both of these players seems destined to be bought out of their contracts via the league's amnesty provision created to help teams shed salary when the cap ceiling comes down. Only $800,000 of both the Montador and Olesz cap hits come off the books in the AHL. That suggests that neither player is long for Chicago.
That said, the Blackhawks may keep Olesz on the sidelines to prevent another injury that could keep them from enacting such a move this summer. If, or more likely when, he clears waivers, we'll get a clearer picture of what's on Bowman's mind.
Both Montador and Olesz are hamstrung by their big contracts. Their recent health history doesn't make them attractive to other teams. I'm sure both skaters are eager to get back to hockey and prove they belong on an NHL roster. Montador should get his chance to do that soon. It's up in the air right now if Olesz will get that same shot.