Chicago Blackhawks Need To Keep Their AHL Team Well Stocked
While Chicago Blackhawks fans worry about whether or not Andrew Shaw will return next season, or if Teuvo Teravainen might be part of an offseason trade, some consideration also needs to be made for minor leaguers who need to be re-signed this offseason.
According to General Fanager, the Blackhawks have 11 players who spent a majority of the season with the Rockford IceHogs or a lower-level team who need to be re-signed before the next season starts. We’ll go through each one and determined which ones ought to be re-signed, and which ones can afford to be let loose.
Jay Harrison, D
Harrison was part of the deal that brought Andrew Ladd to the Blackhawks and sent Marko Dano to the Winnipeg Jets. Harrison played a bit with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, last season, but he received no playing time following the trade. That seems likely to suggest he won’t be back with the organization next season, and that’s probably a good call. Even with the Blackhawks’ sketchy blue line, a 33-year-old fringe NHLer doesn’t help much.
Ryan Haggerty, F
Haggerty came over to the Blackhawks organization last offseason in the Antti Raanta deal with the New York Rangers. He had a nice training camp in 2015 before spending the entire campaign with the IceHogs. It was a tough season for the 23-year-old, as he posted just 13 points in 36 regular-season games and no points in one postseason tilt.
Still, Haggerty has a nice bit of potential as a bigger right wing (6-foot, 200 lbs), and considering the Blackhawks parted ways with a player at a position in which they aren’t at all deep (goaltender) to acquire Haggerty, it’s hard to image they’ll be giving up on him so soon.
Mark McNeill, F
McNeill is the last remaining big piece from the Blackhawks’ 2011 draft class, and he’s the only one who hasn’t gotten any sort of legitimate push with the big club. He made his NHL debut last season, and was immediately gone back to the AHL after that one game.
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I have to believe, if the Blackhawks were giving up on McNeill, they would’ve moved him during the 2016 trade deadline. But they didn’t, so that makes me think the 23-year-old is going to get a great shot at making the main roster out of this year’s training camp. His 48 points in 64 regular-season games and two points in three playoff games suggest he’s ready for the run, and his size (6-2, 212) is something the Blackhawks should crave, especially with the way he’s used it to produce at the AHL level.
Tim Jackman, F
He was brought over to Chicago when Ryan Garbutt was sent to Anaheim. To keep this short and simple, there’s no reason to bring Jackman back to the organization. He’s 34 years old and is more known for being an agitator than anything else.
Mathieu Brisebois, F
Brisebois has been mired in the ECHL much of the last three seasons, and at 24 years old, he certainly doesn’t project as an NHL-level talent at this point in time. He’s barely projected as an AHLer thus far, playing just 14 games with the IceHogs and none since the 2014-15 season. Re-signing Brisebois would simply be a minor-league roster depth move.
Matt Fraser, F
Fraser has spent some time at the NHL level, playing for the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers in his career. Despite some modest success (91 games, 12 goals, 7 assists), he wouldn’t really project as a key piece for the Blackhawks right now. He did tally 8 points in 23 games with the IceHogs this season, so it’s feasible he could be re-signed as a “veteran” (26 years old) presence for the team’s younger athletes.
Garret Ross, F
This will be a controversial thought, considering Ross’ revenge porn case was thrown out due to bizarre circumstances. The Blackhawks, however, should let Ross go this offseason. He’s a decent player, tallying 20 points 65 games last season, but the Blackhawks have better forward options than him with far less baggage. The only thing that could keep him attractive to the organization at this point is that he’s a left wing, a position at which the Blackhawks have struggled to find depth.
Drew MacIntyre, G
It sounds like MacIntyre is probably on his way out, so I’m not sure there’s much to discuss here. He was brought over from Carolina in a deal for defenseman Dennis Robertson, who was brought to Chicago in the Kris Versteeg–Joakim Nordstrom deal with the Hurricanes. The 32-year-old managed just eight starts with the IceHogs this season, going 2-3-2 with a .895 save percentage and 3.03 goals-against average.
Mac Carruth, G
Carruth seems like a far more likely option to be re-upped in the offseason, as he’ll probably start to get more of a push with the IceHogs. Michael Leighton has served as a solid placeholder while Carruth has matured, although that process hasn’t exactly be smooth. Carruth had a fine .918/2.43 slashline as an ECHL goaltender this season, as well as a strong .926/2.30 in 17 games with the IceHogs earlier in 2015-16. But later this season, he had a miserable .854/4.53 mark in three games returning to Rockford.
With the Blackhawks’ goaltending depth a serious issue, Carruth will be given every chance to succeed. So we should expect him to be re-signed this offseason.
Kyle Cumiskey, D
Blackhawks fans know all about Cumiskey, the blueliner who comes up whenever the Blackhawks need a ninth man. Considering the Blackhawks defense is iffy at best, even with the recent addition of Michal Kempny, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Blackhawks re-up Cumiskey and store him in Rockford in case of emergency.
Mike Liambas, F
Liambas is a gritty kind of guy with little offensive prowess. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks that could mean he gets an extended look out of training camp, especially with Brandon Mashinter likely gone to free agency and Shaw possibly gone to free agency/costing too much.
This is the kind of guy Joel Quenneville could fall in love with, despite posting just 3 points in 47 games this season in Rockford. Liambas’ 214 penalty minutes will speak to the former NHL defenseman, and it’ll probably ensure Liambas has another deal coming with the organization.