Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: AHLers Will Be Key In 2016-17

By Sean Fitzgerald
Nov 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks center Tanner Kero (67) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks center Tanner Kero (67) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tanner Kero Could Be Important To The 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks

With the Chicago Blackhawks still having $6,390,706 left in cap space, General Manager Stan Bowman declared they no longer have a salary cap problem but they have a have depth problem.

Remember last season when only the Blackhawks only had one line that could score on consistent basis? That line was composed Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. Since the Blackhawks do not have a cloning machine, and could lose Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, they will have to count on some younger players.

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One such player that the Blackhawks could call upon is Tanner Kero. Kero fits the smallish type winger that the Blackhawks love to sign and draft.

Kero was a prolific scorer in college at Michigan Tech. His scoring trend continued at Rockford for his first year in the AHL. Kero scored five goals in six games in his first year at Rockford.

During his second season with the IceHogs, Kero at one point earned a callup to the Blackhawks. He spent time on multiple lines and the penalty kill. In 17 games, he had one goal and two assists before being sent down to Rockford.

While receiving one of the longer NHL auditions last season among the various minor leaguers the Blackhawks called up, Kero was not recalled during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 60 games at Rockford last season, Kero recorded 20 goals and 19 assists. He also appeared in the IceHogs’ three playoff games. He had zero goals and two assists.

With the Blackhawks thin on players with extensive NHL experience, Kero figures to be on the fourth line wing and on the penalty kill next season in Chicago. Kero is one of the few AHL players the Blackhawks currently have who might be able to play at the NHL level. My best guess would be that Dennis Rasmussen be on the roster centering the fourth line while Marcus Kruger is moved up to center the third line.

Another young player the Blackhawks will have to count on figures to be Vincent Hinostroza. Hinostroza appeared in seven games with the Blackhawks last season, recording zero points. Hinostroza, like Kero, can play the center position and on the wing.

The other young players at Rockford are filled with question marks. Mark McNeill has fallen out of favor and could be traded. Ryan Hartman is an underachieving version of Andrew Shaw and has only appeared in eight games NHL games. Kyle Baun went from third-line forward in the NHL to fourth-line AHL forward.

Next: Meet Blackhawks' Paul Goodman

Some other Blackhawks prospects are former college players in Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz, who could make an impact at the NHL level next season.

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