The Blackhawks came away from the 2007 draft with only one regular player, but they made that one count by making Patrick Kane the first overall pick. He has since won a Calder Trophy, earned three All-Star nods, and helped lead Chicago to its first cup since 1961.
Team Depth Chart of NHL Prospects
- Depth and talent of center prospects
- Defensive prospects mix size with mobility
- Overall depth of system is strong
- Little depth on wings, particularly right side
- Lack of an elite goaltending prospect
Legend of Players' Leagues
- Playing in N.A. Pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL, etc.)
- Playing in CHL (OHL, QMJHL, WHL)
- Playing in NCAA
- Playing in Europe
- Playing in Junior 'A' (USHL, BCHL, AJHL, etc.)
- Not Categorized Yet
The Chicago Blackhawks' AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs are again icing one of the youngest teams in the AHL in the 2011-12 season. The 'Hogs have four more rookies playing regular roles already this year and four others who have found part-time work in the AHL lineup.
The team has been led by a new coach behind the bench in Ted Dent, a longtime assistant in Rockford. He has the young club playing a similar up-tempo, puck-possession style as what is played in Chicago, but they have suffered in their own zone. Rockford has allowed 130 goals through 35 games, more than any other team in the AHL, in part because of the struggling penalty kill, which ranks in the bottom third.
The Blackhawks have 10 prospects developing at the junior level. Three of their top four picks from the 2011 draft, Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, and Brandon Saad, skated well in the team's training camp but were ultimately assigned to their CHL teams.
Chicago has added depth to the goaltending pipeline in recent drafts with junior players, bringing in WHL goalies Kent Simpson and Mac Carruth in 2010 and OHL rookie Johan Mattsson in 2011. All three are 19 years old this season and could be playing for a pro contract with Chicago.
The Blackhawks are re-stocked and loaded with talent after a couple summers of auctioning established players for picks and prospects. Chicago has added a number of high-profile prospects, including nine top-60 picks from the last two entry drafts. The results are some exciting prospects at the top of the rankings and solid depth across the board.
Chicago's strength is on the blue line, where the organization is loaded with smooth-skating offensive-defensemen. They have also added some bulk and physicality to the group in recent years, which is something that has been emphasized at all levels of the organization recently.
Not to be outdone, the forward ranks also boast several top prospects. The left wing position may be the strongest at the top having already seen a pair of prospects exceed expectations and get some NHL time under their belt as teenagers. The center position is strong as well, though the strength there is more in the depth and variety of skills of the prospects.
Chicago's reloaded prospect system will again lead the way for the Rockford IceHogs in the 2011-12 season. Rockford is an even younger team than last season and will have fewer veterans suiting up each night. Much of the team's young core is another year older though and out to prove that their strong play down the stretch last season was no fluke.
Rockford will play the upcoming season in the AHL's new Midwest Division. The league changed from four larger division into six five-team divisions for the 2011-12 season and Rockford will compete against the Charlotte Checkers, Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals, and Peoria Rivermen as they try to get back into the playoffs.