Another regular season is over for the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, and for the third straight year, they did not qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
This season, failing to qualify for the post-season was particularly agonizing for fans, after holding a playoff spot just two weeks away from the end of the season. The IceHogs were as high as the fifth seed in the Western Conference this season, and finished in ninth place, just four points behind the final playoff team, the Oklahoma City Barons.
The ‘Hogs started the year with Antti Raanta and Kent Simpson as their goaltending tandem, but it wasn’t built to last, after Raanta got the call-up to the Blackhawks just over a month in. Mac Carruth became the club’s back-up behind Simpson, until a trade with the Edmonton Oilers brought in Jason LaBarbera, who quickly became the teams’ starter for the rest of the season. With goaltender Allen York playing one game on a Pro Tryout Offer, the IceHogs dressed five separate goaltenders this season.
The IceHogs saw an immediate impact from their rookies in their first full season, such as Phillip Danault, who scored 26 points (6 G, 20 A) in his first professional season. Mark McNeill scored the Hogs’ very first game-winning goal of the season, and finished with 37 points (18 G, 19 A), playing in all 76 games.
Coming into the season, Adam Clendening was expected to be the teams’ leader, and he did not disappoint. He led all IceHogs in points with 59 (12 G, 47 A), and was a +5 on the blue-line for the team. Jeremy Morin was on-pace for totals near or better than Clendening, but with only 47 AHL games under his belt this year, he fell short at 47 points (23 G, 24 A). The Blackhawks traded away active scoring leader Brandon Pirri to the Florida Panthers in the New Year, leaving the ‘Hogs with substantially less offensive power.
All-world Blackhawks’ top prospect Teuvo Teravainen was added to the team with just days to go in the regular season, after the Blackhawks decided to keep a year on his entry-level contract. Teravainen only dressed in five games for the ‘Hogs, but scored two goals, and was a +2.
A mid-season acquisition, Pierre-Marc Bouchard was one of the hottest ‘Hogs in late-season, scoring 20 points (3 G, 17 A) in his final 23 games.
Here’s a list of the Blackhawks “Black Aces” that were recalled by the club after the IceHogs’ season was over:
All IceHogs will attend Blackhawks’ prospect camp, but only a select few will be at main camp, and some may even have a shot at the big club next year. Here’s our picks for the top 5 Rockford regulars that may be in Chicago next season:
Adam Clendening: Clendening is a true leader on the ‘Hogs and his offensive production from the blue-line is unparalleled in the Blackhawks’ system. A promotion will likely depend on Johnny Oduya‘s off-season, and if the Swedish defenseman is shipped elsewhere.
Jeremy Morin: Morin played in 24 games with the Blackhawks this season, and was a difference-maker with the NHL club. In the AHL as a point-per-game player, he is likely the first forward the Blackhawks will look to promote to the big club.
Teuvo Teravainen: Teravainen’s skill is still untapped, as he has only eight NHL/AHL games under his belt in his career. He is likely the long-term solution to the Blackhawks’ second-line center conundrum, but it is unknown if he will be ready to start the year, although many fans would love to see him in Chicago.
Alex Broadhurst: Broadhurst quietly had a solid year for the IceHogs, finishing fourth in team scoring. His speed and shot on the wing would be useful tools for the Blackhawks, and a welcome boost to their solid bottom-six.
Viktor Svedberg: The Blackhawks could lose two (or more) defenseman over the summer, and if they choose to fill from within, Svedberg is only behind Clendening in terms of NHL-readiness, and his 6-foot-9 frame would be the biggest in the league alongside Zdeno Chara.
Alas, it’s the end of another year. Thank you for viewing our weekly Rockford Report, and stay tuned during the summer, as we will have loads of content from down on the farm!
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