The Chicago Blackhawks have been among the NHL’s elite teams over the past six seasons, and with odds-makers giving the team the best chance to win their third Stanley Cup in six seasons this year, nothing is expected to change.
With all the excitement surrounding the Blackhawks and their chances at another championship this season, the action down on the farm certainly has taken a back-seat. With the Rockford IceHogs struggling to find the post-season over the past 5 years, and the Blackhawks consistently loading up their roster for a deep playoff run, it is likely that the ‘Hogs are going to see some success in the near future.
One look at the IceHogs’ roster, and many Blackhawks’ fans will see familiar names; the same system that bred Nick Leddy, Bryan Bickell, and Corey Crawford is now home to names such as Philip Danault, Mark McNeill, and Ryan Hartman.
As the 2014-15 season approaches, and the Blackhawks’ roster shows minimal spots for farm-hands to make the next step, it’s another addition to the growing problem hiding beneath the glitz and glamour of the Blackhawks’ themselves; they have too many darn good prospects.
Taking a look at that IceHogs’ roster once again, and the names should seem awfully familiar. Not just from the draft floor from sunny days in June in years past, but from multiple seasons spent at the AHL level.
Now, with the biggest prospect since Jonathan Toews to find himself trapped in this tangled web of two-way contracts, Teuvo Teravainen, Blackhawks’ fans are starting to take notice.
Teravainen is simply the icing on the cake, however. Since 2008, the Blackhawks’ first-round draft picks have played a total of 75 NHL games. 72 of those belong to Dylan Olsen, who the Blackhawks traded to the Florida Panthers during the 2013-14 campaign. He has logged 48 of his 72 games with the Panthers this season, giving the Blackhawks a total of 31 man-games played by these first-round picks in the jersey they once donned on-stage at the draft.
The only other player from that group to play in the NHL; Teravainen, who came over-seas mid-season in 2014, to play 3 games with the Blackhawks, before being sent down to the IceHogs. With Brad Richards’ surprise signing on the opening day of 2014 Free Agency, it seems Teravainen better find an apartment in Rockford; He’ll likely be there for at least one more year.
Of all the Salary Cap issues that GM Stan Bowman faces at present time, the IceHogs’ pile-up of marquee draft picks should be none of his concern. Why, you ask?
Well, it’s a pretty good problem to have.
With such a talented prospect pool under their watch, the Blackhawks can keep all of these prospects in their hip pocket when looking to make a trade, if the situation arises. Until then, the IceHogs will enter the 2013-14 season with their best outlook yet. Contract years will be burned, but in the end, the top two teams under the Blackhawks’ watch will both be successful clubs.
It might cause some heartbreak for some, expecting to see the likes of Danault, McNeill, and Hartman all don the Blackhawks’ jersey together, but at the end of the day, a hockey team is run by a brain, not a heart. If all works out, the Blackhawks’ era of dominance will be one that continues into the next decade, and even longer.
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