Blackhawks AHL/ECHL prospects update

By Jon Hagan

On July 7, 2005, the Chicago Blackhawks named
Trent Yawney the 35th head coach in team history. Previously,
Yawney was the head coach of the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. He had been with
the team since its inception and guided them to the postseason in each of the
team’s five years of existence. Now in their sixth year, and sixth as the AHL
affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, the team is under the tutelage of Mike
Haviland. Having led two different teams to the ECHL Kelly Cup in three years, Coach Haviland is accustomed to success and he is eager to apply his
winning ways to Norfolk. With
the Admirals currently tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference, they should be able to translate
this into a sixth consecutive visit to the
AHL postseason.

With Hawk alumnus John Marks at the helm in
Greenville, Chicago’s
prospects on the ECHL affiliate Grrrowl are also in good hands. Marks played for the Hawks from 1972-82. This is the
second year of affiliation with the Grrrowl.

Chicago has a host of defensive prospects on the Admirals and the
Grrrowl who, at an average height and weight of 6’2 and 218lbs, can
all play the game and will look to establish themselves on the Hawks’ blue line for
years to come. A number of these players form the core of what puts the
Hawks third overall in the Hockey’s Future organizational ranking. The
forwards, consisting mostly of role players, are also an able-bodied group who
should be able to contribute to the success of the Hawk organization for years
to come.

Norfolk Admirals

rial” size=”3″>Martin St. Pierre, C

Height: 5’9 Weight: 180
lbs

D.O.B: 1983-08-11 (Embrun, ON)

Like Syracuse’s Geoff Platt, Hamilton’s Corey
Locke, Lowell’s Keith Aucoin, Milwaukee’s Darren Haydar, and Peoria’s Peter
Sejna, Martin St. Pierre
is 5’9 forward leading his team in points. Signed in 2004-05 by the Edmonton Oilers, St. Pierre was
signed first to an AHL deal by Chicago this year, then to an NHL contract in November
2005. He can find the net. In his final season with the Guelph Storm of the
OHL in 2003-04, St. Pierre picked up 110 points and was awarded the Wayne
Gretzky trophy as the league playoff MVP.
In 2005, St. Pierre
has lit it up as well. He is better than a point a game in Norfolk, and his 34 penalty minutes are the most he has had in his
professional career. He even had a two-game call-up to Chicago.

YEAR


TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Edmonton
(AHL)
18437n/a8
2005-06Chicago2000-10
2005-06Norfolk26101929234

Colin Fraser, C

Height: 6’1 Weight: 185
lbs

D.O.B: 1985-01-28 (Surrey, BC)

Colin Fraser was a third round pick of the Philadelphia
Flyers in the 2003 Entry draft, and became property of the Hawks in the trade
that saw Alexei Zhamnov move to the Flyers in February 2004. Colin is not
a subtle player. He is someone who is going to draw penalties by getting
under people’s skin, and he does it well. The rookie is a solid checker and
reliable third or fourth liner who, even though as a junior managed to put up
some decent offensive numbers, will not be looked upon to do the same in
Norfolk. He has just eight points in 27 games, but leads prospects on the
team with 62 penalty minutes.

YEAR


TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Red
Deer (WHL)
6324436717148
2005-06Norfolk27538562

Mikhail Yakubov, C

Height: 6’3, Weight: 210 lbs

DOB: 1982-02-16 (Barnaul, Russia)

Yakubov was drafted by Chicago 10th
overall in the 2000 draft, but up to this point, has failed to consistently
demonstrate the considerable skill that made him a top ten pick. He split
the 2003-04 season with the Admirals and the Hawks where he scored 8 points (1
goal, 7 assists) with the big club in 30 games. In 2004-05, he was with
the Admirals full-time. He began this season with
Spartak of the Russian Super League where he score 12 points (5 goals and 7
assists) in 29 games. He returned to North America after the team agreed to
terms with the restricted free agent, and this may be the last year that Yakubov
gets to prove himself with the Chicago organization. In his five-game stint
with Norfolk, he has three points.

YEAR


TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Norfolk59121527n/a43
2005-06Spartak295712-338
2005-06Norfolk512306

Matt Keith,
RW

Height: 6’2, Weight:
200lbs

D.O.B: 1983-04-11 (Edmonton, AB)

This young Edmontonian recently contributed to an
Admirals franchise record when he and newcomer Eric Meloche scored seven seconds apart during
a tilt with Bridgeport. Keith was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2001,
59th overall, and played 20 games for the Hawks in the 2003-04 season scoring 2
goals and adding 3 assists. Categorized as a third line winger, Keith is
regarded as a smart, tough player who, as his rookie season indicated, has some
scoring instinct. He has seven points in 21 games with Norfolk.

YEAR TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Norfolk801831491074
2005-06Norfolk21437-216

Nick Kuiper,
D

Height: 6’2 Weight: 220 lbs

D.O.B: 1982-02-12 (Beaconsfield, PQ)

Signed by Chicago as a free agent in March 2004,
Kuiper is a stay at home defenseman who will not be relied upon for
offensive contributions, but his combination of excellent skating skills, his
ability to make a good outlet pass and his hard shot from the point could make
him a valuable addition to the power play. Kuiper also has very good hockey sense and will contribute a solid work ethic night after
night. He is +5 on the year, best among prospect defensemen.

YEAR TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05

Norfolk

733584109
2005-06Norfolk29257538

James Wisniewski , D

Height: 5’11 Weight:
204 lbs

D.O.B: 1984-02-21 (Canton, MI)

Wisniewski is a young reliable defenseman with a
considerable offensive upside. At this point in his second professional
season he is seven points away from the 25 points he got in his rookie campaign,
and he has achieved this in 37 fewer games. Drafted in the fifth round, 156th overall in 2002,
Wisniewski
is solid on his skates and is an effective
quarterback for the Norfolk power play.


YEAR
TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Norfolk66718254110
2005-06Norfolk2941418031

Michal Barinka, D

Height: 6’3 Weight:
221 lbs

D.O.B: 1984-06-12 (Vyskov, Czech)

Barinka is a solid stay at home defender who
should play a simple game in order to maintain his effectiveness. This
Czech rearguard was drafted by the Hawks’ organization in the second round, 59th
overall in the 2003 draft, and, if he plays a straight forward game, should
provide the Hawks with years of reliable defense. He was playing mostly
with Babchuk in Norfolk. Recalled December 12th
by the Hawks, Barinka has exhibited concussion like symptoms after a hit by
Nashville’s Scott Hartnell and is now on the Hawks’ injured reserve and listed
day to day.


YEAR
TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Norfolk5911011-377
2005-06Norfolk25167048
2005-06Chicago2000-32

Dustin Byfuglien, D/RW

Height: 6’3 Weight:
250 lbs

D.O.B: 1985-03-27 (Roseau, Minn.)

An adaptable player who can play both defense and right wing, and so far this
year has seen action as both. Byfuglien was
drafted in the eighth round, 243rd overall by the Hawks in the 2003 NHL entry
draft. While not always the most motivated player, Byfuglien is a skilled
player who is not a defensive liability. He can skate, and has offensive
skill, but his forte is his ability to hit; and when he gets rolling chances are
he’ll be remembered when he connects. Byfuglien
missed four games with a hip flexor injury. In his remaining 25 games, he
has 10 points.


YEAR
TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Prince
George (WHL)
64223658-5184
2005-06Norfolk255510229

Anton Babchuk, D

Height: 6’4 Weight: 212 lbs

D.O.B: 1984-05-06
(Kiev, Ukraine)

Another towering defenseman, Babchuk was drafted by the Blackhawks 21st
overall in the 2002 draft. While in Norfolk, he played largely with
Barinka, putting up 11 points in 23 games. He was first recalled by the Hawks on December
5th. He played in five games, scoring his first NHL goal against Nashville
on December 15th. Returning to Norfolk for four days, Babchuk was again
called up to replace the injured Brent Seabrook.

YEAR TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Norfolk6681624-1588
2005-06Norfolk235611020
2005-06Chicago6123-14

Corey Crawford, G

Height: 6’2 Weight: 181 lbs

D.O.B: 1984-12-31 (Montreal, PQ)

Crawford entered the professional stage of his career in the 2005-06 season
as a goalie who, in each of his previous four junior seasons with the QMJHL’s
Moncton Wildcats, saw both his save percentage and goals against average improve
significantly. In this, his first pro season, his goals against of 2.57 places him 12th best
in the league. Consistent improvement of this type is what made Crawford the Hawks second
round pick (52nd overall) in the 2003 draft and one of their best goaltending
prospects. He is a butterfly goaltender who can move well laterally while
keeping himself square to the opposition’s shooters. He also maintains his
composure when there is a lot of traffic around his crease.

YearTeamGPWLTSPCTGAASO
2004-05Moncton5128166.9202.476
2005-06Norfolk15680.9022.570

Adam Munro, G

Height: 6’1 Weight: 195 lbs

D.O.B: 1982-11-12 (St. George, ON)

Splitting goaltending duties with Crawford is Adam
Munro. Munro, signed by Chicago as a free agent in February 2004 after
being drafted and unsigned by the club, made his
NHL debut a month later registering a 2-2 tie with Nashville. So far this
year Munro is 18th in the AHL with eight wins and 20th in the league with a
goals against average of 2.89. He is a
capable goalie, but is inconsistent. The knock on him has been
that he will usually let in a suspect goal a game.

YearTeamGPWLTSPCTGAASO
2004-05Atlantic
City (ECHL)
n/a221.9371.990
2004-05Norfolkn/a14102.9052.484
2005-06Norfolk15850.8942.891

Greenville Grrrowl

Mike Brodeur, G

Height: 6’2 Weight: 188 lbs

D.O.B: 1983-03-30 (Calgary, AB)

Greenville goaltender Mike Brodeur was called up
to Norfolk, then assigned back to the Grrrrowl from the
Norfolk Admirals just before Christmas. The goalie, drafted in the seventh
round of the 2003 draft (211th overall) by the Hawks, suited up for the
Admirals, but did not see any action as Norfolk took on, and defeated, the
Binghamton Senators 8-6 just before the Christmas break.

Brodeur’s 12 wins tie him for the
ECHL lead in wins for goalies, while he is third in
saves. Despite the call-up, Brodeur has played in 21 of Greenville’s
23 games and is second in minutes played.

YearTeamGPWLTSPCTGAASO
2004-05Greenville3519151.9272.682
2004-05Norfolk1010.7336.170
2005-06Greenville211281.9172.60n/a

Vladimir Gusev , D

Height: 6’3 Weight:
205 lbs

D.O.B: 1982 -11-24 (Novosibirsk, Russia)

Gusev was selected by the Blackhawks in the
fourth round, 115th overall, in the 2001 entry draft. Recently called up to Norfolk as a replacement for
Babchuk who was called up by
the Blackhawks, he played one game for Norfolk registering no points and was
demoted five days later to Greenville.
Gusev
is a solid two-way
defenseman who shoots the puck extremely well. He understands
the game and anticipates the play well. He passes the puck with authority,
but must learn to play more aggressively along the boards especially with larger
players.


YEAR
TEAM

GP

G

AP+/-PIM
2004-05Norfolk2000n/a6
2004-05Greenville7081119n/a113
2005-06Norfolk100040
2005-06Greenville19279n/a34

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not
reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.