The next Chicago Blackhawks star could be emerging in the AHL.
Rockford IceHogs center Tanner Kero has been named the AHL Player of the Week. He scored three goals, helped on another and had a plus-5 rating in Rockford’s three victories over Texas, Iowa and Chicago last week.
Kero has had a strong start to his first full season in the AHL. His eight points in seven games ranked 10th in the AHL heading into Tuesday, and his six goals were second in the league. He leads the IceHogs with a plus-7 rating. His standout game last week came Wednesday night against Iowa, when he tallied three points and lit the lamp twice. It was Kero’s second two-goal performance of the season.
Kero, 23, signed a two-way contract with the Blackhawks in April and got his first taste of professional action at the end of last season. He racked up five goals in six regular-season games and accumulated three points in six playoff contests. Kero has been nothing but superb in his first full season with the IceHogs. The IceHogs are 4-3-0 and tied for first place in the Central Division with eight points. Kero has been a big reason for Rockford’s early season success.
However, Kero’s tenure in Rockford may be short-lived. The Blackhawks recently sent down fellow prospect Vincent Hinostroza, according to various reports. Chicago has not recalled anyone from Rockford to join the professional club.
It may be hard to believe, but the Blackhawks could use an offensive spark in the lineup. Chicago has won consecutive overtime games by 1-0 scores, but there hasn’t been much production outside of Chicago’s first two lines. Seven Blackhawks depth forwards, including prospects Hinostroza and Kyle Baun, have not recorded a single point this season. The forward depth that helped Chicago win a Stanley Cup last spring has been absent for the early stretch of the regular season.
That means Kero may be called up sooner rather than later to potentially spark Chicago’s third or fourth lines.
Kero arrived in Rockford after playing four years of collegiate hockey for the Michigan Tech Huskies. Kero tallied at least 16 points in each of his four seasons for the Huskies and racked up double-digit goals and assists in his final three seasons with the team. He scored 20 goals and 26 assists in his final season a year ago.
Marko Dano, Baun and Hinostroza received the bulk of the training camp and preseason buzz. But Kero could be the young prospect who could stick with the Blackhawks for the long haul.
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