The Chicago Blackhawks are known for their offense, and with one of the best farm systems in the entire NHL, nothing seems to be any different on the horizon. However, unlike years past, the ‘Hawks have both world-class depth with their NHL club and in the system at another position: defense.
With plenty of future NHL-ers close to making the jump on the Blackhawks’ blue-line, we decided to rank the top five defensive prospects in the Blackhawks’ arsenal. Remember their names!
#5: Trevor Van Reimsdyk
The brother to current Toronto Maple Leafs forward James Van Reimsdyk certainly inherited the natural talent that runs in the family (younger brother Brendan is a 2014-15 commit to University 0f New Hampshire, Reimsdyk’s alma mater), and when the Blackhawks acquired the 22-year old via free agency in March of 2014, it was another big addition to the future of the Blackhawks’ blue-line. Van Reimsdyk spent the last three seasons at UNH, where he totalled 16 goals and 75 points in 102 career NCAA games. He will likely play at the AHL level next season with the Rockford IceHogs, and is signed through the 2015-16 season.
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#4: Viktor Svedberg
The first thing many will notice about this 23-year old Swede is his size: massive. If Svedberg was to play an NHL game, he would join Zdeno Chara as the tallest active players in the league, at 6-foot-8. Svedberg weighs in at 234 lb. Svedberg spent his first season in North America in 2013-14, playing his rookie campaign with the Rockford IceHogs. He had 9 points and was +5 in 35 contests with the ‘Hogs, but his season was cut short due to a shoulder injury, from which he is expected to recover in time for the 2014-15 campaign. Svedberg’s two-way game has made way for a more defensive role in his first year with the ‘Hogs, and with a reach like that, it is only a matter of time before the prospect cracks the NHL roster.
#3: Klas Dahlbeck
Another 23-year old Swede, Dahlbeck’s improvements since joining the Rockford IceHogs in 2012-13 have skyrocketed him up the depth charts, and is now in the conversation for an extended look at Blackhawks’ training camp in the fall. Dahlbeck is no Svedberg, but at 6-foot-2, he is a larger-than-average defenseman with good hockey sense, especially in his own end. Dahlbeck went from 6 points and a +11 rating in 70 games in his rookie season, to 35 points and a +21 rating in 75 appearances this year, and was on the IceHogs’s top pairing with our #1 ranked prospect for most of the season. Although the NHL is a long-shot this fall, settling in to a top defensive role at the AHL level will only help his improvent, and aid in developing what will surely be a solid NHL defenseman in the future.
#2: Stephen Johns
A well-known name around Blackhawks’ circles since the club drafted him in 2010, Johns’ development at the University of Notre Dame is cause for excitement about what’s coming up the pipe for the Blackhawks. Johns wrapped up his four-year NCAA career this spring, finishing with 57 points in 162 games, and wearing an “A” for the club in 2013-14. Another big prospect at 6-foot-4, 234 lb, Johns went on to appear in eight regular-season games with the IceHogs in 2013-14, recording five points, including his first professional goal. Although still billed as a stay-at-home defenseman, Johns had no trouble finding his offensive game in his short stint at the AHL level, and he will certainly be in the mix at Blackhawks’ training camp.
#1: Adam Clendening
Although some believe that Johns and Dahlbeck may knock Adam Clendening off his post as the Blackhawks’ top defensive prospect in the near future, that title is still wholly given to the 21-year old. After spending two seasons with Boston University, Clendening has already played in two full campaigns with the AHL’s IceHogs, and as a defenseman, led the team in scoring in 2013-14 with 59 points. The 2011 36th overall draft pick was huge on the power-play for the IceHogs, and his excellent puck-moving skills, coupled with great vision, makes Blackhawks fans dream of the prospect leading the clubs’ power-play from the blue-line, something the club has lacked in recent seasons. Clendening shows all of the talent that current Blackhawk defenseman Nick Leddy did, with two full seasons of consistent play to add to his repetoire. Clendening will easily challenge for a roster position on the Blackhawks this year, and depending on the future of current defensemen Michael Roszival and Sheldon Brookbank, it could be an expectation, not a challenge, when he steps on the ice in September.
Who’s your top five? Let us know in the comments below!
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