Sunday, October 20, 2013
I had the opportunity to watch the Rockford Ice Hogs a couple of times over the weekend, so I thought I would share my notes on the prospects of the parent Chicago Blackhawks. Rockford has one of the youngest teams in the AHL but they are well-stocked by a very deep Chicago Blackhawk organization.
Adam Clendening – I came away very impressed with Clendening. He skates well, handles the puck very well, and has the offensive instincts that are you just can’t teach. He seems to be much more comfortable with the speed of the AHL compared to last year and is picking his spots to jump into the rush better as well. Clendening isn’t a big guy but is constantly in the face of his opponents and draws and takes a fair number of penalties. It’s clear that Chicago is grooming Clendening for future power play time in the NHL.
Viktor Svedberg – Svedberg is 6’8, so his size only may give him opportunities that others may not get. The truth is that Svedberg plays much smaller than his size and needs to put on bulk and use it more often to have an NHL career. He won’t be a fantasy contributor if he does make, so any comparisons to Chara are based only on height.
Jeremy Morin – Morin is a feisty winger with a sniper’s touch who has proven that he can score in the minor-leagues. He made need a change of scenery to get a chance to prove he can light an NHL lamp. The Blackhawks have several forward prospects that will be knocking on the door soon, possibly crowding Morin out.
Mark McNeil – I’ve heard some fantasy experts giving McNeil the “bust” label already and, while he may not fill the score sheet the way other high first-round picks are expected to do, McNeil will be a productive NHL player. McNeil is a tireless worker and a very intelligent player who will contribute to Chicago in a number of ways once his AHL apprenticeship is completed. He’s not going to score 30 goals or 75 points,but he will useful to those in multi-category leagues.
Drew LeBlanc – LeBlanc got into a couple of games with Chicago at the end of last season, and it apparently helped his jump from college hockey as he looks right at home in the pro offensive zone. He is a creative playmaker who knows when to pass and when to shoot. LeBlanc’s play away from the puck needs a lot of work, so how quickly (or if) he becomes a NHL regular will be dependent on his ability to learn that part of the game.
Phillip Danault – Outside of maybe Clendening, I came away most impressed with Danault. He plays a NHL game in all three zones and has some grit to boot. His puck skills are much better than most believe, and he will be wearing the Indianhead crest soon. He reminds me of Dave Bolland and may already be in Chicago if not for the depth.
Alex Broadhurst – Another exciting young forward in the Blackhawks’ system, the Illinois native has good speed and was buzzing around the net all weekend. He’s one of those players whom the puck seems to follow. It’s too early for me to make a prediction on his fantasy potential, but he seems to be a natural offensive player but needs to get stronger.
Antti Raanta – I’ve only seen Raanta play one game, but he looked very good in that one. He is technically sound, plays the angles and controls his rebounds. The Blackhawks didn’t sign him and bring him to North America to play in Rockford, so expect him to get his chance in Chicago behind a very good team.
As always, please feel free to ask questions or leave feedback. I can be reached on Twitter @RichDillon17. Thanks for reading!