The Chicago Blackhawks will make two lineup changes for their Friday night matchup with the Nashville Predators. Recently acquired forward Kurtis Gabriel will make his Hawks debut, drawing in for Brett Connolly. On the back end, Erik Gustafsson will replace Calvin de Haan.
de Haan is dealing with an illness, which opens the door for Erik Gustafsson to slot in on the blue line after being a healthy scratch Wednesday vs. Washington.
Kurtis Gabriel's Blackhawks Debut
After sorting out visa issues, Kurtis Gabriel will suit up in a Blackhawks jersey for the first time Friday night. The Hawks acquired Gabriel from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Chad Krys on December 9.
The 28-year-old winger has 49 games of NHL experience under his belt. He has five points (two goals, three assists) in those contests. Gabriel spent the beginning of the 2021-22 season with the AHL Toronto Marlies, where he recorded two points (one goal, one assist) across 13 games.
Clearly, point production isn't a strong suit of Gabriel's game. But Blackhawks' interim head coach Derek King is looking for something else from the rugged forward.
"I think he's going to be huge for us.... He's a big presence, right? If guys are going to start taking liberties on our players, he's the type of guy I know is going to defend them," King said following the acquisition.
If things get chippy against Nashville, expect Gabriel to be in the thick of the scrum.