Early edition: Rockford IceHogs 2019–20 roster 2.0


The NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, as has the window for restricted free agents to receive qualifying offers or not. The Chicago Blackhawks have been busy making trades and figuring out their roster moves heading into the free agency period opening. Those moves have had a sizable impact on the makeup of the Rockford IceHogs potential roster heading into the 2019–20 season. Here is the 2.0 edition of an early look at which players could begin the season in Rockford.

IceHogs roster: Signed through 2019–20

Top to bottom for all three positions, here is the running list of players that are already signed on for the 2019–20 season or beyond for the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs. AHL-only contracts specified for the players who are only eligible to play for the IceHogs or the ECHL’s Indy Fuel, without signing a contract with the Blackhawks.


  • Liam Coughlin
    • AHL contract
  • Mackenzie Entwistle
  • Alexandre Fortin
  • Brandon Hagel
  • Matthew Highmore
  • Mikael Hakkarainen
  • Reese Johnson
  • Graham Knott
  • Dominik Kubalík
  • Philipp Kurashev
  • Dylan McLaughlin
    • AHL contract
  • Nick Moutrey
    • AHL contract
  • Jacob Nilsson
  • Nathan Noel
  • John Quenneville
    • Acquired from New Jersey Devils
  • Jack Ramsey
    • AHL contract
  • Aleksi Saarela
    • Acquired from Carolina Hurricanes
  • Dylan Sikura
  • Tim Soderlund
  • Mathew Thompson
    • AHL contract
  • Kris Versteeg
    • AHL contract
  • Anton Wedin


  • Nicolas Beaudin
  • Adam Boqvist
  • Lucas Carlsson
  • Carl Dahlstrom
  • Dennis Gilbert
  • Henri Jokiharju
  • Slater Koekkoek
  • Chad Krys
  • Josh McArdle
    • AHL contract
  • Dmitry Osipov
    • AHL contract
  • Joni Tuulola


  • Collin Delia
  • Kevin Lankinen
  • Chase Marchand
    • AHL contract
  • Matt Tomkins
    • AHL contract

With the Blackhawks making multiple trades over draft weekend, the potential for a few new names to be added to the list has come up. Notably, with the additions of Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta to the Chicago defensive group, players like Boqvist and Jokiharju may be all but certainties to begin the year in Rockford with the IceHogs. While Boqvist still has the ability to return to the London Knights of the OHL, there is almost no benefit to that, since his best option is likely to begin developing his game and logging meaningful ice time against men, not teenagers.

Rockford IceHogs Carl Dahlstrom

Carl Dahlstrom lines up for a face off during a Rockford IceHogs game. (Photograph courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins)

Also becoming possible NHL-casualties of the de Haan and Maatta additions by the Blackhawks are bottom-pair defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom. While both players would have to clear waivers in order to be sent to the IceHogs, the additions made by Chicago are creating a crowded NHL blue-line group with more than enough bottom-pair defensemen available to Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. Dahlstrom and Koekkoek, while playing fine for their roles last season, are not the movers of the defensive needle that the Blackhawks need them to be. There is a potential for one or maybe both players to be traded, but if one is dealt, the other may find himself with the IceHogs early in the season.

Aleksi Saarela

Aleksi Saarela of the Charlotte Checkers playing in the Calder Cup Finals against the Chicago Wolves. (Photograph courtesy of the Charlotte Checkers)

In the trade with the Hurricanes, the Blackhawks sent Anton Forsberg and Gustav Forsling to Carolina and acquired de Haan and Saarela. In Saarela, the Blackhawks get a proven AHL-level scorer, as he has tallied 61 goals and 107 points in his 147 AHL games with the Charlotte Checkers. Saarela also notched 15 points in 17 Calder Cup Playoff games this year with the Checkers on their way to winning the Calder Cup. He has an outside chance of making the Blackhawks’ roster out of training camp, but more likely he will be the top-end goal scorer that the IceHogs have needed in recent years.

Rockford IceHogs Dylan Sikura

Dylan Sikura skates for the Rockford IceHogs last season. (Photograph courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs)

Finally, on players that are signed through next season, the Blackhawks announced on Friday that they had reached deals with Sikura and newly acquired Quenneville, who they received from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for John Hayden in a trade on day two of the NHL Entry Draft. Both players entered the offseason as restricted free agents, and both signed identical deals worth a $750,000 annual average value over two years. Both contracts are two-way deals in the first season and one-way pacts in the second year. While it currently looks like both players have a better-than-not chance at making the Blackhawks’ roster, depending on training camp performances and possible free agent additions, one or both of Sikura and Quenneville could see time with the IceHogs next year.

IceHogs roster: Already gone

Not everyone fits into the future plans of the Rockford IceHogs, or reversely, the IceHogs do not always fit into every players’ future plans. For Rockford, there are already a few players from the 2018–19 squad who will not be re-signing with the club, let alone any North American team.

  • Viktor Ejdsell — Farjestad BK (Sweden)
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 61 games, 12 goals, 17 assists
  • Anton Forsberg – Carolina Hurricanes
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 32 games, 15-15-2, 2.64 goals against average, .919 save percentage
  • Peter Holland — Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (KHL)
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 21 games, seven goals, nine assists
    • 2018–19 total: 73 games, 27 goals, 38 assists
  • Jordan Schroeder — Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 62 games, 19 goals, 26 assists
  • Brett Welychka – Esbjerg Energy (Denmark)
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 18 games, 0 points, -4
Rockford IceHogs Anton Forsberg

Anton Forsberg guards the goal for the Rockford IceHogs last season. (Photograph courtesy of the San Antonio Rampage)

The major skaters lost leave a big hole in the carried-over offensive production from last year’s IceHogs squad. Holland and Schroeder were producers for Rockford late in the season as they pushed for a Calder Cup Playoff spot, and Ejdsell showed flashes in 2018–19 of the player he was supposed to be, but could not produce on a consistent basis. While Ejdsell is going back to Sweden, the Blackhawks did extend to him a qualifying offer to retain his NHL rights should he want to come back to North America.

The next biggest departure from the IceHogs is Forsberg. Leading the IceHogs in net along with Collin Delia last season, Forsberg has more than established himself as a solid goaltender at the AHL level. His NHL opportunities though have not been as productive as hoped. With Delia and Lankinen becoming more and more likely the No. 2 and 3 goalies on the Blackhawks depth chart, respectively, Forsberg’s spot with the organization was lost and a change of scenery will be best for him in Carolina.

IceHogs roster: Unsigned

While there is a larger number of players left unsigned that would more likely be in play for the Blackhawks, here is the list of remaining players left unsigned that are likely in play for the IceHogs and the Indy Fuel.

Unrestricted free agents

  • Radovan Bondra
  • Terry Broadhurst
  • Andrew Campbell
  • Brandon Davidson
  • Blake Hillman **
  • Luke Johnson **
  • Anthony Louis **
  • Andreas Martinsen
  • Connor Moynihan
  • William Pelletier
  • Tyler Sikura
  • Spencer Watson **

(**Did not receive restricted free agent qualifying offer)

Rockford IceHogs Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson battles for a puck during a Rockford IceHogs game. (Photograph courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs)

Adding to the list of unrestricted free agents are the four players that were left without restricted free agent qualifying offers. Johnson, Louis, Hillman and Watson were left without offers from the Blackhawks. While any of these players could re-sign with the organization once free agency opens on July 1, it is likely that no one from this list returns to the Blackhawks or IceHogs.

It was perhaps most surprising to see that Johnson was not extended a qualifying offer. Johnson played 15 games with the Blackhawks early on last season, notching just one assist, but was liked by then-head coach Joel Quenneville and his staff early on as a fourth-line option. In his AHL career, Johnson has 39 goals and 78 points in his 199 games with the IceHogs. With the incoming prospect class for Rockford and the returns of both Highmore (health) and Nilsson, Johnson’s spot with the organization became much like Forsberg’s.

Rockford IceHogs Anthony Louis

Anthony Louis plays with a puck prior to a Rockford IceHogs game. (Photograph courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs)

Same can be said about Louis. After leading the IceHogs in scoring in the 2017–18 season, Louis failed to live up to his billing as one of the top scoring options for the IceHogs in 2018–19. Tallying 34 points in 74 games played, Louis had a lot riding on his shoulders for a team that had trouble putting the puck in the next on a consistent basis. He never got a shot at the Blackhawks’ roster during the regular season, but could get an opportunity elsewhere. In 157 AHL games with Rockford, Louis tallied 27 goals and 81 points.

This IceHogs roster will begin to take more shape as the summer roles along. The next edition will provide an even more clear picture as unrestricted free agency will be fully underway and the Blackhawks’ development camp will have come and gone. As the summer progresses, so will this list. Keep tuned in for edition 3.0 later in July.

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