Blackhawks AHL/ECHL prospects season review

By Courtney Wagner

Brandon Bochenski

Norfolk Admirals made the playoffs under new head coach Mike Haviland only to be
swept by the
Hershey Bears in an east division semifinal series, outscored 18-9 in the
process.  Below is a look at individual performances by Blackhawks




Martin St. Pierre, C

Drafted: Undrafted

5’9, 180 lbs.


Martin St. Pierre enjoyed a solid
year in his first full season in the AHL, enough to garner him a two-game stint
with the Blackhawks. An undrafted player due to his
small size at 5’9 and 180 pounds, he was in the Edmonton Oilers system last
year, and was signed by Chicago in November. 


Pierre led the Admirals with 50 assists and 73 points and was named to the AHL
All-Star Game. In four playoff games he had
three assists and a -1 rating. A strong playmaker and gifted scorer who plays
hard, St. Pierre has proven he can get the job done well – without having size
on his side.


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Colin Fraser, C

Drafted: 69th, 2003

6’1, 185 lbs.


Colin Fraser, a Philadelphia Flyers
draft pick in 2003, was part of the 2004 deal that saw Alexei Zhamnov head to
the Flyers. Fraser joined the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals late last season, in time
to see action in a few regular season games and six postseason games, where he
had a goal and two penalty minutes.


As a regular with the
Admirals in 2005-06 Fraser had 25 points in 75 games, and his 145 penalty
minutes were third highest on the team. In four playoff contests he went scoreless
with seven penalty minutes.


Fraser plays a hard and agitating
style of hockey. He plays aggressive and does not give up on the play. His
toughness could make him an NHL role player in the future if he is able to keep his
temper in check.


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Pavel Vorobiev, RW/LW

Drafted: 11th, 2000

6’1, 195 lbs.


The 11th
overall pick in 2000, Pavel
Vorobiev split his time between the Admirals and the Blackhawks in 2005-06 after
spending all of last season with the Admirals.
He previously saw ice time with the
Blackhawks in 2003-04 where he had a goal and four points in 18 games. 


was out nearly a month in November due to an ankle injury, but still managed to
find success both in the AHL and NHL. In 32 games with Norfolk he had nine
goals, 25 points and 23 penalty minutes. With Chicago he also netted nine goals,
had 21 points and 34 penalty minutes in 39 games. In four playoff games with the
Admirals he had a goal and three points.


Vorobiev has a strong skill set to go
with his good size at 6’1 and 195 pounds. He has creativity with the puck
and will battle down low and in the corners to gain possession. He is also
effective on the penalty kill and his aggression can lead to turnovers in his
favor. If he can stay healthy and continue to put up strong numbers he should
become a mainstay in the NHL.


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Matt Keith, RW

Drafted: 59th, 2001

6’2, 200 lbs.


A second-round choice in 2001, Matt
Keith spent the 2005-06 season with the Norfolk Admirals, but did see time in
the NHL during a brief call-up.


In 2004-05 he played in all 80 games
with the Admirals and finished third on the team in scoring with 49 points,
including 18 goals and 74 penalty minutes. In 72 games this season he netted 26 goals, 45 points and had 61 penalty
minutes. In three postseason appearances he had one assist. In two games with
the Blackhawks Keith was scoreless. He saw his first NHL action in 2003-04 where
he had two goals and five points in 20 games.


A patient player with a strong work
ethic, Keith reads the play well and is able to create turnovers. He also
possesses a willingness to do anything to make a play and displays solid leadership
qualities — things that should give him a chance to become a regular in the NHL


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Brandon Bochenski, LW/RW

Drafted: 223rd, 2001

6’0, 197 lbs.


A seventh-round draft pick of the
Ottawa Senators in 2001, Brandon Bochenski had a busy 2005-06 season. After
enjoying early-season success in the Senators lineup, he was then sent down to
the Binghamton Senators due to a drop in production. An injury to the Senators
Martin Havlat gave Bochenski another shot, but he suffered a shoulder injury in
December, again forcing him out of the lineup. After a few more call-ups he was
traded, along with a second-round pick, to the Chicago Blackhawks in March for
Tyler Arnason.


In 33 games with Binghamton he had
22 goals, 46 points and 36 penalty minutes. He played three games
with the Norfolk Admirals in the playoffs after the Blackhawks season was over
where he had two points
and a -2 rating.


Although not a solid season for
Bochenski, his strong offensive abilities and willingness to drive hard to the
net are positive attributes. Playing for a team like Chicago, who does not
possess the firepower that the Senators do, should mean a great opportunity for Bochenski,
seeing regular playing time in the NHL next season.


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, RW

43rd, 2005

6’3, 213 lbs.


joined the Admirals on an amateur tryout contract at the end of his season with
the OHL Erie Otters.  Drafted in 2005, he does not have to be signed by the
Blackhawks until 2007, but with four years of service in the OHL and a fall
birthday, he’s eligible to play in the AHL full-time next season.  Look for
him to turn pro.


Norfolk 111562+4
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Danny Richmond, D

Drafted: 31st, 2003

6’0, 190 lbs.


A Carolina Hurricanes draft pick in
2003, Danny Richmond had a childhood dream realized when he was acquired by his
hometown Chicago Blackhawks in a trade that saw Anton Babchuk head
the other way. Richmond spent the entire 2004-05 season with the Lowell Lock


The 2005-06 season was a busy one for
Richmond as he was shuffled around between four different teams. He began the
season with the Lock Monsters where he played in 32 games, with four goals, 15
points and 60 penalty minutes. He was also called up for 10 games with the
Hurricanes where he had one assist and seven penalty minutes. He joined the
Norfolk Admirals of the AHL following the trade in January and had four goals, 12
points and 42 penalty minutes in 31 games. In 10 games with the Blackhawks he
went scoreless with 18 penalty minutes. In 83 games in total he had 28 points.
In three playoff games with Norfolk he had an assist and two penalty minutes.


Richmond has the skills to be a
quarterback on the power play. He is strong offensively and sees the ice well.
His power-play skills may help him garner more ice time in the NHL in 2006-07.


Norfolk (playoffs)30112-2


Michal Barinka, D

Drafted: 59th, 2003

6’3, 222 lbs.


Michal Barinka spent the bulk of the
2005-06 season in the AHL with the Admirals. He played 59 games for the
Admirals in 2004-05 and scored a goal, 11 points and 77 penalty minutes. In 54
games this season he had a goal, 12 points and 86 penalty minutes. In 25 games
with the Blackhawks, he missed a handful of games due to a concussion suffered
in December, he had an assist and 20 penalty minutes. In four playoff games with
the Admirals he went scoreless with 11 penalty minutes.


A big defenseman at
6’3 and 222
lbs., Barinka is a good passer and is strong on his skates. Developing a solid
game and learning to make better decisions will help Barinka move up the ranks.


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James Wisniewski, D

Drafted: 156th, 2002

5’11, 204 lbs.


James Wisniewski has made a strong
transition to the AHL last season with 25 points in 66 games and 110
penalty minutes. He improved on his play in 2005-06 where he had 35
points and 67 penalty minutes in 61 games, sometimes playing up front as well. He was also impressive during his
time with the Blackhawks where he had two goals, seven points and 36 penalty
minutes in 19 games. In four playoff games with the Admirals he had one goal,
three points and six penalty minutes.


A strong skater who has a knack for
getting under the skin of the opposition, Wisniewski has a hard shot and can
contribute offensively. A nice combination of skills should help him get more
ice time with the Blackhawks next season.


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Nick Kuiper, D

Drafted: Undrafted

6’3, 220 lbs.


A free-agent signing in 2004, Nick Kuiper played four years at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst before
joining the Norfolk Admirals in 2004-05. During his first AHL season he had nine
points and 109 penalty minutes. He put up similar totals this
season with the Admirals where he had two goals, nine points and 104 penalty
minutes. His +16 rating was second best on the team behind Quintin Laing. Kuiper was scoreless in one playoff game.


A defensive defenseman, Kuiper is
aggressive and can contribute offensively. A good work ethic and smart play
could be the key to his success at the next level.


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Dustin Byfuglien, D

Drafted: 245th, 2003

6’3, 250 lbs.


An eighth-round pick in 2003, Dustin
Byfuglien’s strong play has paid off in the form of a shot in the NHL in his
first season out of the junior ranks.  He was probably the biggest surprise
along with St. Pierre. 


lead the Prince George Cougars in scoring in his final season in 2004-05 with 58
points and his 184 penalty
minutes were the second-highest total on the team behind Carolina
prospect Matej Trojovsky. In 2005-06 he played 53 games with the Admirals,
scoring eight times with 23 points and 75 penalty minutes. In 25 games with the Blackhawks he netted three goals,
including a game-winner in his debut, a total of five points and 24 penalty minutes. In
four playoff games with Norfolk he had one goal, three points and four penalty


A big presence on the ice at
and 250 pounds, Byfuglien is a hard hitter and will step in and stick up for
teammates. One of his greatest assets is the fact he can play both defense and
forward if needed. This is an upside that should ensure he sees more ice time
in Chicago next season.


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Vladimir Gusev, D

Drafted: 115th, 2001

6’3, 205 lbs.


Since coming to North America in
2003 Vladimir Gusev has spent more and more of his time playing in the ECHL. In
2004-05 he played 70 games with the Greenville Grrrowl where he scored 19 points and had 113 penalty minutes. He went scoreless and had six
penalty minutes in two appearances with the Norfolk Admirals last season. In 60
games with Greenville this season he had 14 points and 99 penalty
minutes. He was scoreless in one game with Norfolk. In five playoff games with
Greenville he was
scoreless with two penalty minutes.


Gusev has good vision
as a two-way defenseman, but is unlikely to be retained next season.


Greenville (playoffs)50002-1




Corey Crawford, G

Drafted: 52nd, 2003

6’2, 181 lbs.


After a stellar final season in the
QMJHL with the Moncton Wildcats in 2004-05, Corey Crawford moved up to the
professional ranks with the Norfolk Admirals in 2005-06.


Despite being a rookie, Crawford backstopped the majority of the
games for the Admirals. He had 22 wins, a 2.94 goals-against average, one
shutout and a .898 save percentage. He appeared in two games for the Blackhawks
as well, allowing five goals on 41 shots. 


He only made one appearance in the playoffs
where Norfolk went with experience in Adam Munro. Crawford allowed one goal on
four shots.


A butterfly-style goaltender,
Crawford has maturity and bounces back quickly after allowing a goal. His
ability to handle a heavy workload should only benefit him.  He’ll remain
at the AHL level next season. 


Norfolk (playoffs)1000349.7500


Adam Munro, G

Drafted: 29th, 2001

6’2, 195 lbs.


Adam Munro split his time between the Norfolk Admirals and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005-06.
In 28 games with the Admirals he had a
2.72 goals-against average, 17 wins and a .909 save percentage. In 10 games with
Chicago, he had a 3.00 goals-against average, three wins, one shutout and a .893
save percentage. In four postseason games with Norfolk he had a 3.77
goals-against average, a .879 save percentage and no wins.


A hard-working, patient netminder,
Munro has struggled with consistency since being drafted in 2001. He will have
to continue to work hard to prove himself.  He must earn another contract


Norfolk (playoffs)40403.77.8790


Mike Brodeur, G

Drafted: 211th, 2003

6’2, 170 lbs.


Mike Brodeur
began play with the
Greenville Grrrowl of the ECHL last season, coming from Moose Jaw of the WHL. In 35 games
that year he had
19 wins, a 2.68 goals against average, two shutouts and a .927 save percentage. The second-year
pro started 23 straight games for the Grrrowl between Oct. 28 and Dec. 27 and finished the regular season with the
seventh-best GAA in the league at 2.58. 
had 14 wins in
24 games, one shutout and a .916 save
His success was put on
hold, however, as Brodeur suffered a back injury that kept him out the last half
of the season. 


Brodeur has worked on his rebound
control and moving out of his net a bit more. Brodeur may have a tough time
sticking with the Blackhawks organization due to the number of goaltending
prospects the team possesses, but he has one more year on his contract and has
put up very good numbers in the ECHL so far.



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