Chicago, Il – Amateur Scouting has always been a key for the Blackhawks and never has it been more important in the current salary cap era to have a plethora of young talent waiting in the wings. The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate has never been more center stage than in the upcoming years.
The next wave of Blackhawks is currently sitting on the IceHogs’ roster. It will be a year for the IceHogs coaching staff to get the next wave ready not only for the Blackhawks but for the rigors of the NHL. If there is a criticism of the IceHogs it maybe they have not reached their playoffs for the past 4 years. This is something they should look to right this year.
Young players can never learn to early the pressures and rigors of playoff hockey and how to cope. The sooner they experience this in the minors the better prepped they will be in the NHL. As we all know there is nothing quite like playoff hockey at any level.
Look at the LA Kings AHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs or the Dallas Stars affiliate the Texas Stars both of these AHL teams have steadily made the playoffs the last four years. This past playoff series we saw the Kings’ players that came up through their farm team were NHL playoff ready. Players like Tyler Tofoli, Jake Muzzin & Tanner Pearson had their AHL playoff experience to help them deal with this year’s NHL playoffs.
I’m pointing this out only with the aim to make both the Rockford IceHogs better and the Blackhawks better. Plus the Rockford fan base deserves a winner. The IceHogs were just given an award for having the most increased ticket sales. It’s time to give back to the fans and get these young men ready for playoff hockey, as we all know the Chicago Blackhawks will be in the playoff hunt for years to come.
Blackhawks fans there are plenty of reasons for making the trip to Rockford. This year there will be a virtual buffet of talents there on the ice. The next wave of Blackhawks like Teuvo Teravainen, Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, Garrett Ross, Ryan Hartman and Dennis Rasmussen up front and on the blue line, Stephen Johns, Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck & Victor Svedberg all waiting to take the next step to the big city.
Personally I can’t wait to see a line of Phillip Danault, Ryan Hartman and Andrew Shaw at the UC. That is a whole lot of speed, grit, work ethic and skill all together and Danault and Hartman already have chemistry. I make myself dizzy with the thought of Teuvo Teravainen centering Patrick Kane. Oh the spin-o-rama delights and slick passing is endless or Teuvo on a line with Marian Hossa who just does everything well. I’d love to see Mark McNeill opposite either Ben Smith or Bryan Bickell with a whole lot of Mac truck crash, bang, boom deliveries along the boards but hey that’s just me.
This year at most there will be two, yes only two spots, as I see it open on the Blackhawks if that and one of them will be a defenseman. That leaves only one open possible spot or these players who must otherwise battle a current NHL player for a spot which in order to do that you have to really impress the coaches. I’m not saying that can’t be done but its tough.
These kids are going to have to work their, you know what off, but it is possible even on a talented team like the Hawks. Preparing these kids is imperative. Most of those players will stay in Rockford for now so get out and see them folks these kids are good really really good.
As for the players don’t get frustrated or discouraged which is easy to do. Bid your time, improve, listen to your coaches and keep working you will make the Hawks when you are ready. The Hawks saw something in you otherwise you would not have been drafted. Hint mind your defensive responsibilities first that is the surest way to get to the next level.
Centers become flawless faceoff masters, Wingers become board battlers, All forwards hone that two way game, Defenseman play the body as well as the stick and learn to block shots and close gaps, goalies watch your rebound control and positioning. Get these things down and you’ll be in the NHL soon.
On the horizon, there are so many talents. For those that went to the prospect camp this year you know what I mean. The line of 1st rounder Nick Schmaltz, Anthony Louis and John Hayden was just sick and these are still college kids wait until they get more experience. The skill in the hands of these three players is unreal and they already click. Hayden is just a physical beast. That kid has some serious size and skill. Louis and Schmaltz have history with playing with each other on the Chicago Mission and both have great hands and on ice vision.
Local boy Vincent Hinostroza who has been to previous camps has so much speed and battle in the corners and knows how to score and get to the net. He may not be big but boy this kid never gives up.
On the defensive side Nick Mattson & Michael Paliotta stood out and are returners to the Blackhawks prospect camps. Their defensive positioning and puck movement was very good. All of these kids can skate.
All of these players will be returning to school for the most part. The Hawks now have a healthy pipeline of prospects so look to them in the future to draft more college prospects and possibly more young Europeans. The Hawks have the luxury of letting them have time to grow and develop which makes both of these options ideal for the Hawks.
Whether you’re an IceHogs fan or a Blackhawks fan the future for both of these organizations is very bright indeed and for the fans get out and see some incredibly fast, skilled players either at the UC or in Rockford I guarantee you will like what you see.