The Chicago Blackhawks opted not to sign defensemen Roope Laavainen and Cole Moberg and let their respective draft rights expire Tuesday.
Selected in the seventh round (No. 194 overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft, Moberg scored five points (one goal, four assists) in 22 AHL games for the Rockford IceHogs this past season. The 20-year-old signed a professional tryout contract with Rockford in January when the WHL’s season was in doubt. His 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 58 WHL games ranked second on the Prince George Cougars and first among team defensemen during the 2019-20 season.
Moberg could sign an AHL contract with the IceHogs to remain in the Blackhawks organization.
Laavainen, a 2017 fourth-rounder, split the season between KalPa of the Liiga and IPK of Mestis (Finland’s top development league). He posted four assists in 22 regular-season games and skated in two playoff games for KalPa. He logged nine points (three goals, six assists) in 11 games with IPK. Laavainen hasn’t established himself as a full-time Liiga player.
2017, 2019 Draft Class Standings
Chicago has signed six players from its nine-player 2017 draft class, with Laavainen, forward Parker Foo (fifth), and defenseman Josh Ess on the outside looking in. Foo left Union College after his junior season to play in the KHL. The Blackhawks have until August 15th to sign Ess, who graduated from Wisconsin this spring.
The Blackhawks have signed two players from their 2019 class in forwards Kirby Dach (first) and Michal Teply (fourth). Defenseman Alex Vlasic (second), forward Antti Saarela (fourth), and goaltender Dominic Basse (sixth) remain unsigned. Vlasic could sign in 2022 after his junior season at Boston University, while Basse will likely play at least two more seasons at Colorado College. Saarela will enter his third season as a full-time player in Liiga for Ilves.