Forward Ludvig Rensfeldt was the first Swede chosen at the 2010 NHL Draft. Since then, Rensfeldt has been somewhat off the radar as compared to other prospects chosen in that draft. Rensfeldt brought his talent to North America for the 2011-12 season, where he is playing for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He has played well for the Sting, and is now stepping up as a key performer for Sweden‘s 2012 World Junior Championship. After two WJC games, Rensfeldt is tied with Max Friberg for the team scoring lead at five points.
Last year, Team Sweden finished ahead of tournament favorite, Team Canada after the round robin games but failed to even win a medal at the 2011 WJC Tournament. They will be looking to be more successful in this year's tournament with probably the most North American-like playing style out any of the European Teams.
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.