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: Prince Albert Raiders forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mark McNeill has switched from being an offensive catalyst to instead be more of a role player at the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Bad news for Montreal Canadiens prospect Charles Hudon was good news for Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mark McNeill.
Hudon, who plays for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL, was unable to participate at the 2013 World Junior Championship after injuring his back. Enter McNeill of the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders, who replaced Hudon on Team Canada's roster shortly before the start of the tournament.
Photo: OHL rookie Alex Broadhurst is already making an impact with his new team as a key piece to the London Knights winning streak, which now stands at 18 games. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks have 12 prospects developing in major junior and junior 'A' leagues across North America. Led by 2011 first round picks Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault, the group is largely made up of late round draft picks fighting to prove they are deserving of a pro contract.
Photo: Drafted ninth overall in 2010, Finnish Center Mikael Granlund has made his AHL debut this season. Granlund was widely considered one of the best hockey players not playing in North America. (Juan DeLeon/Icon SMI)
Below is the top-10 section of Hockey's Future's NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year.
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.