Early edition: Rockford IceHogs 2019–20 roster 3.0

  

We have reached the end of July. With the NHL Entry Draft and the Chicago Blackhawks’ development camp behind us, here is a look at what the Rockford IceHogs organizational roster looks like as August roles around the corner. A number of signings and trades have started to completely shape what the roster will look like by October’s regular season opener.

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 are 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.

Forwards

  • 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
  • Alexander Nylander
    • Acquired from Buffalo Sabres
  • John Quenneville
    • Acquired from New Jersey Devils
  • Jack Ramsey
    • AHL contract
  • Aleksi Saarela
    • Acquired from Carolina Hurricanes
  • Dylan Sikura
  • Tyler Sikura
    • AHL Contract
  • Tim Soderlund
  • Mathew Thompson
    • AHL contract
  • Kris Versteeg
    • AHL contract
  • Anton Wedin

Defensemen

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

Goalies

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

First and foremost, the biggest move affecting the roster of already signed players was the Alexander Nylander-for-Henri Jokiharju trade. Still a head-scratcher for many, the trade dealt Jokiharju to Buffalo in exchange for Nylander, one for one. In his first full professional season, Jokiharju began the year with the Chicago Blackhawks, skating in 38 NHL games before heading to the IceHogs to play in 30 AHL games. He won a World Junior Championship gold medal in between his time with the two teams and combined for 29 pro points in his 68 pro games in the NHL and AHL last year, all as a teenager.

In exchange for Jokiharju, the Blackhawks acquired Nylander, son of former Blackhawks forward Michael Nylander and younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. Alex, a former 2016 first round draft pick by the Sabres, has had trouble consistently finding NHL ice time since making his professional debut in 2016–17. Nylander has played in just 19 games with the Sabres at the NHL level since 2016–17, while playing in 165 AHL games with the Rochester Americans. Last season, Nylander had two assists and two goals in 12 NHL games with Buffalo while skating in 49 games with Rochester and tallying 31 points.

The Blackhawks made the Nylander-Jokiharju trade not from a point of strength, but in reverse of what the organization needs. They let go of a good, young defenseman who had half an NHL season under his belt for a young, streaky forward having a hard time making the NHL on an arguably bad Buffalo team. Again, it is a head-scratcher.

Alexander Nylander Chicago Blackhawks

Alexander Nylander handles the puck at Chicago Blackhawks development camp. (Photograph courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks)

From his performance in the Blackhawks’ development camp, Nylander looks highly skilled in drills and his physical gifts with the puck on his stick are clearly there. When it came to the team scrimmage at the end of camp, Nylander’s defensive engagement and play away from the puck left much to be desired, even in an inter-squad practice game. He could very well just have been spent after a quick turnaround from the trade just days prior to camp, but if his performance does not improve in front of the Blackhawks’ brass during training camp, Nylander will continue to find trouble cracking an NHL roster already full of decent bottom-six and middle-line forward options.

This brings about other revelations coming out of development camp. Mainly, the IceHogs are going to be stacked with young, skilled forwards that all could give the Blackhawks something to consider going into and heading out from training camp later in September. Along with the addition of Nylander to the fold, players like MacKenzie EntwistleBrandon Hagel (development camp scrimmage MVP) and Philipp Kurashev all made positive impacts during camp; most notably from my vantage point was Kurashev.

Philipp Kurashev Chicago Blackhawks

Philipp Kurashev skates at Chicago Blackhawks development camp. (Photograph courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks)

With pro-level size and speed in his game, Kurashev brings a little bit of everything to the table with a high-end ability to put the puck right where it needs to be for his teammates. His goal-scoring ability is the highlight of his game, but his ability to make plays happen with and without the puck make him an intriguing prospect in the Blackhawks’ system.

Finally, looking at the defensive depth after the Jokiharju trade, Rockford still has a deep talent pool on their blue line. It is looking very likely that Adam Boqvist will be the last defenseman that the Blackhawks will make a roster decision about in training camp, and he should be. His skills defensively have slowly crept up nearly to the level as his offense over the last year since being drafted by the Blackhawks and his confidence seems through the roof. If Chicago ultimately decides he should begin the year in the AHL with the IceHogs, he may not be there too long.

Aside from Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin looked ready for the professional ranks in development camp, as did Chad Krys. Both will be offense generators for the IceHogs while Lucas CarlssonDennis Gilbert and Joni Tuulola return to provide defensively minded approaches to the IceHogs defensive group.

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
  • Brandon Davidson — Calgary Flames
    • 2018–19 with Blackhawks: 10 games, one assist
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: six games, one goal
  • Blake Hillman — Toledo Walleye (ECHL)
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 54 games, one goals, three assists
  • Luke Johnson — Minnesota Wild
    • 2018–19 with Blackhawks: 15 games, one assist
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 53 games, 18 goals, 13 assists
  • Andreas Martinsen — Anaheim Ducks
    • 2018–19 with Blackhawks: 24 games, one goal, three assists
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 38 games, three goals, eight assists
  • William Pelletier — Laval Rocket (AHL)
    • 2018–19 with IceHogs: 41 games, seven goals, 10 assists

After the opening of free agency and the restricted free agent qualifying periods, a number of unsigned IceHogs were left out. One came back to the IceHogs with Tyler Sikura re-signing on an AHL contract with Rockford. Among the players not returning to the team were a few surprises, most notably Luke Johnson.

Rockford IceHogs Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson battles for a puck in a game against the Chicago Wolves. (Photograph courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs)

Johnson has been a key contributor for the IceHogs at both ends of the ice for the last three seasons. He was a favorite of Joel Quenneville’s in the Chicago bottom-six forward rotation, but had trouble sticking in the lineup once Jeremy Colliton took the reigns. Johnson is a quality AHL forward (78 points in 199 AHL games) who should have a better-than-not chance of cracking the Minnesota Wild roster. If not, he will get to see plenty of his former team as the Iowa Wild and the IceHogs come together eight times during the 2019–20 regular season.

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
  • Anthony Louis 
  • Connor Moynihan
  • Spencer Watson 

The pool of players still left unsigned from the 2018–19 Rockford IceHogs has thinned considerably since the last installment of the roster breakdown. The most notable name still left in the free agent pool is forward Anthony Louis, a veteran of 157 AHL games with 87 career AHL points with Rockford.

Rockford IceHogs Anthony Louis

Anthony Louis celebrates a goal against the Milwaukee Admirals. (Photograph courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs)

Louis spent the last two seasons with the IceHogs as an offensive energy forward who has decent playmaking abilities. His stature at 5-foot-7 and just around 160 pounds makes his NHL prospects difficult. He has good—but not great—speed and is good—but not great—on the puck. He will provide a spark in an AHL role, but to crack an NHL roster, he will have to be in the right situation and take a major step this summer. It appears his time in the Blackhawks’ organization may be over.

Center Ice Forums Early edition: Rockford IceHogs 2019–20 roster 3.0

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  • #14138
    Mario Tirabassi
    Participant

    We have reached the end of July. With the NHL Entry Draft and the Chicago Blackhawks’ development camp behind us, here is a look at what the Rockford
    [To continue reading full article, click here: Early edition: Rockford IceHogs 2019–20 roster 3.0]

    #14140
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    Nice work here, Mario.   Safe to assume the fans up in Rockford are in for a helluva yr??   …….. I lkean on you for my Hogs scoop/evaluation but have to admit tis yr I’m especially interested in this club.  Following prospects at the jrs level and from the ones I’m familiar with this club looks very very good although I don’t have much frame of reference as I don’t follow the AHL much.

    The D seems stacked.  Laz pointed out last 5 yrs Hawks used something like 11-9-10-10-9 Dmen so a few of these guys are sure to get looks with the Hawks…….

    looks like the biggest improvement is at the forward position.  My guess is Nylander is a Hog, huge fan of missile Soderland, Kurashev looks to have the kind of game and mentality to carve out an NHL role, Entwhistle may be the same, Hagel really impressed at camp, if Hakarrainen stays healthy he may be of use.  Some younger guys with a real chance to play NHL hockey for a living.

    Then the goaltending.  Gotta think Delia and Lankanen will be a top 1/3 AHL pairing.

    New coach too?

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