With the Chicago Blackhawks still trimming their roster and whittling away at the salary cap conundrum, I’ll choose my 3 Top Hogs to watch as they send players to the Rockford IceHogs. That includes eleven of them so far consisting of seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.
The most recent forwards, Cody Bass and Pierre-Cedric Labrie are newcomers to Rockford but have made appearances in the NHL. Bass played two preseason games with the Blackhawks recording 12 penalty minutes and four hits. He also has 49 career NHL games appearances with Ottawa and Columbus. His AHL career has been with Binghamton and Springfield. Labrie also played two preseason games with the Blackhawks recording seven penalty minutes and five hits. His NHL ice time in 46 regular-season Tampa Bay Lightning games include five points (2 goals and 3 assists) with 65 penalty minutes.
Earlier in the week forwards Joakim Nordstrom, Dennis Rasmussen and Garrett Ross made the trip northwest with defensemen Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck and goalie Scott Darling.
Nordstrom’s NHL career includes seven Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Blackhawks. Ross led all the Rockford rookies with a +12 plus/minus rating ranking second best on the team. Rasmussen ranked 10th in the Swedish Hockey League last season. Clendening’s name is frequently heard throughout the BMO Harris Bank Center and its no surprise he was named a co-Best Defenseman for Rockford and a First Team AHL All-Star. He’s definitely a Hog to watch. Dahlbeck, who is also no stranger at the BMO, ranked second in scoring for Rockford and shared co-Best Defenseman with Clendening. As for the goalie, Darling, he’s another Hog to watch, and watch we did as he grabbed a shutout for the Blackhawks in their fourth preseason game Sunday, winning 5-0 over the Oilers. His impressive .933 save percentage and 6 shutouts last season with the AHL Admirals ranked him second in the league in shutouts. It’s been touted he can challenge Antti Raanta for Chicago’s back up goalie.
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All three of these players have made appearances with the Blackhawks, however, Danault is a Hog to watch. The former first round draft pick by the Blackhawks in 2011 recorded an assist and three shots on goal in the third preseason game last Friday. Last season with the IceHogs Danault racked up 26 points, 6 goals and 20 assists.
As we wait for news on Jeremy Morin and Brandon Mashinter, so far my picks for the 3 Top Hogs to watch are #1 Scott Darling, #2 Adam Clendening and #3 Phillip Danault. As always, let me know who your picks are in the comments below and thanks for reading.