Photo: Brandon Saad's third period shorthanded goal sealed a 2-1 victory over San Jose on February 22nd, marking the Blackhawks' record-setting 17th straight game without a regulation loss to open the season. (courtesy of Robin Alam/Icon SMI)
The Chicago Blackhawks have had the arsenal of picks to draft for both quantity and quality in recent years, leading to a prospect pool with both variety and depth. The team's top five prospects may stand out due to their overall upside and the likeliness that they will reach that level of play, but the rest of the list is far less clear cut as the prospects have yet to distance themselves from the pack.
Photo: The Rockford IceHogs second-leading scorer is winger Ben Smith, one of the many prospects with NHL experience in the Rockford lineup this season. (courtesy of Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)
Expected by many to be among the top teams in the AHL this season, the Rockford IceHogs have put together another up-and-down start to a season. Even with several players on the roster who are expected to be full-time NHL players when the season begins, the team has managed a 17-16-1-1 record so far in 2012-13. There have been good stretches – four separate stretches have seen the 'Hogs rattle off at least three consecutive wins – but they are always accompanied by times when the team has struggled to come away with any points in the standings.
Photo: One of the top defensive prospects in the Chicago Blackhawks prospect pool, Dylan Olsen will look to continue rounding out his game in Rockford in 2012-13. (courtesy of Robin Alam/Icon SMI)
A significant number of early-round draft picks in recent years have put the Chicago Blackhawks system among the deepest organizations in the league. Although there may not be much in the way of blue-chip talent, the system has multiple NHL-caliber prospects at each position and plenty of players competing at the AHL level.
Photo: A quick start to his pro career and an impressive NHL debut defensively led to Simon Despres' improved ranking. (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The 31-40 spots in Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 prospect rankings feature players who were all ranked in the Spring edition, though many saw a great deal of movement from their previous spots. The 2012 NHL Draft can be partially to blame for some of the prospects moving down the list, as there are numerous new faces at the top of the rankings, but two players in particular, Mark Scheifele (WPG) and David Rundblad (PHX) saw a dramatic drop from their previous spots.
Boston College center Kevin Hayes will return to help the Eagles defend their National Championship in 2012-13. (courtesy of Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)
While there are no plans for the Chicago Blackhawks to take the ice in the forseeable future, many of the team's top prospects will still be playing with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL as well as in junior, college, and European leagues around the world. Several prospects will transition to new levels of play while others will look to gain a foothold among the competition in the Chicago system. Below are a few of the interesting storylines headed into the 2012-13 season.