Photo: Brandon Pirri earned an opportunity on Chicago’s second line and has responded with three goals, one assist in his last five games (courtesy of Robin Alam/Icon SMI)
The Chicago Blackhawks’ organizational depth has begun to break through to the NHL level in 2013-14. Led by Brandon Pirri, a handful of prospects have seen playing time in Chicago so far this season, while the depth on the wing and the blue line allowed General Manager Stan Bowman to swing a trade for former-Blackhawk Kris Versteeg.
Photo: Defenseman Shawn Lalonde, the Blackhawks second pick at 68th overall, is one of several prospects from Chicago's 2008 class who is still developing at the minor league level. (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Of the seven selections made by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008, only sixth-round pick Ben Smith has seen any time with the NHL club. Several prospects remain in the minor league system and college level, but none of them are surefire NHL prospects at this point in their careers.
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.
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.