Hartman, Cumiskey could fill spots for Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks' decision Thursday to return Teuvo Teravainen to the AHL wasn't a surprise, but recalling forward Ryan Hartman and defenseman Kyle Cumiskey was unexpected.

Hartman and Cumiskey could give the Blackhawks a spark in two areas -- the fourth line and defense -- where they have lacked consistency at times this season.

The 20-year-old Hartman, who is 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds, has drawn comparisons to Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw for his work ethic, ability around the net and toughness. Rockford IceHogs coach Ted Dent said he thought Hartman had the potential to fill a role at the NHL level. Hartman might be given a shot alongside Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith on the Blackhawks' fourth line.

"Defensively, he has good awareness," Dent said Thursday. "He's a smart player. He has good reads. It's a matter of him being in the right place with the stick. Angles are something we've been working on this year. In a fourth-line role as far as energy and finishing checks, he should be fine. That's one of his strengths."

Dent said he and associate head coach Mark Osiecki have worked with Hartman on being more disciplined with his stick and not taking as many penalties; he's third on the team with 81 minutes. Hartman does, however, lead the IceHogs in drawing penalties, Dent said.

Hartman, the Blackhawks' 2013 first-round pick, has not yet played in an NHL game. He's from the Chicago area and attended Fremd High School in Palatine, Illinois.

"I'm really excited to see Harty to get called up and get his first NHL opportunity there," Dent said. "I'm sure he's thrilled to death. He's played well overall. I think with Harty and every first-year player, it's about consistency, bringing that 'A' game every single night. He's still working on that and getting better."

Cumiskey, 28, is at a different stage in his career. He’s already had some NHL experience and understands what it takes to play at that level. The role Cumiskey could take with the Blackhawks is as an offensive defenseman. Cumiskey, a left-handed shot, has elite skating ability and has played on both sides for the IceHogs.

Cumiskey, who played in Sweden last season, was one of the final cuts for the Blackhawks out of training camp. Dent said he and his staff have worked with Cumiskey on his decision-making this season.

"Throughout the course of the year, we've worked on simplifying his game and making a good first pass and just following up the play on a second wave instead of trying to lead the rush by himself at times," Dent said. "All defensemen have to make plays with pucks with breakouts, regroups. Under pressure, you have to make the right decision and take what they give you at times. That's something we preach to all of our defensemen."

Dent said he has liked Cumiskey's consistency lately. He has one goal, 10 assists and is a minus-1 in 38 games.

"Every player goes through different stages of the season," Dent said. "He's been much better recently. We've really showed him a lot of video, talked to him about keeping things simple and let the puck do the work."