Rockford IceHogs Mid-Term Grades: Defensemen

  

As the AHL reaches the All-Star break and the Rockford IceHogs have nearly a week off, The-Rink takes a look at how the IceHogs have performed so far this season. Sitting in a tie for sixth-place in the AHL Central Division with a 19-19-8 record, good for 46 points in the standings, the IceHogs have work ahead of them in the back portion of the season if they are going to make a return to the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Grading The Rockford IceHogs: Defensemen

The Rockford IceHogs offense this season has been lacking. Although ranking last in the league in goals for with 105, the silver-lining is that the IceHogs rank tenth in the AHL in goals allowed with 130. The goaltending and defense in front of them have kept the IceHogs in multiple games this season, helping them to a record of 17-1-2 when given at least three goals of support.

What Rockford lacks from their blue-line this season is what they had last season: consistent point-producers. Last season, the IceHogs benefitted from having both Cody Franson and Adam Clendening on the blue-line. Both defensemen produced at a 0.75 point-per-game pace or better in their time with the iceHogs in 2017-18.

Rockford’s current point leaders for defensemen, Darren Raddysh and Lucas Carlsson, are tied with 22 points each with Raddysh producing at a 0.52 point per game pace and Carlsson at a 0.48 point-per-game pace. While it’s not essential that goal-scoring and production has to come from the back-end, it helps to have consistent point-production out of a team’s defensmen. Rockford will need more if they are to make a push to get into the Calder Cup Playoff picture.

Incompletes (Less than 15 AHL games played)

  • Josh McArdle (10 GP, 0 G, 2 A, +-0, 6 PIM)
    • Local talent making the most of a banged-up blue-line for Rockford. McArdle has jumped between the AHL and ECHL a bunch this season, finally getting some consistent ice-time with the IceHogs as of late.
  • Jan Rutta (8 GP, 1 G, 3 A, -2, 2 PIM)
    • A short stint with the IceHogs before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rutta made most Chicago Blackhawks fans believers that he could be a regular in the defensive lineup, but his play fell off and out he went.
  • Gustav Forsling ( 5 GP, 0 G, 2 A, +1, 2 PIM)
    • Starting the season late due to injury, Forsling has spent the majority of his time healthy with the Chicago Blackhawks. He continues to be in and out of the Chicago lineup, and his future with the organization is in question. Still, at just 22 years old, there is a ton of hockey left ahead of Forsling to reach his potential.
Rockford IceHogs Luc Snuggerud

Luc Snuggerud of the Rockford IceHogs. (Courtesy: Rockford IceHogs)

  • Luc Snuggerud (4 GP, 0 G, 1 A, -4, 0 PIM)
    • Snuggerud was dealt a horrible hand this season. Looking to build off a solid rookie season last year, Snuggerud suffered a concussion early in the year and has yet to be cleared to return to game action. While his clearance to return to practice a few weeks ago was a step forward, his return to the lineup is still up in the air.
  • Brandon Davidson (4 GP, 0 G, 0 A, -2, 5 PIM)
    • In an effort to benefit from a change of scenery in Chicago, Davidson wasn’t able to find consistent ice time, mainly due to injury, and it followed him to Rockford. While it’s tough to call a guy’s time with an organization “over,” it is limited for Davidson with the Blackhawks/IceHogs.
  • Neil Manning

IceHogs Defensemen Report Cards

  • Darren Raddysh (46 GP, 7 G, 15 A, +3, 16 PIM)
    • The best offensive option in Rockford from the blue-line, Raddysh has been one of the more reliable offensive producers for the IceHogs this season. As mentioned before, Raddysh is producing at the highest point-per-game pace of all defensemen and his 22 points are tied with Lucas Carlsson for the most on the team. His comfort level has grown since last season and his two-way game has also improved. Grade: B+
Rockford IceHogs Darren Raddysh

Darren Raddysh of the Rockford IceHogs. (Courtesy: Grand Rapids Griffins)

  • Joni Tuulola (31 GP, 1 G, 7 A, -2, 13 PIM)
    • A victim of the injury-bug making its rounds in Rockford, Tuulola has been a solid option when healthy for the IceHogs defensive group. After jumping into the roster and making a spot for himself late last season, Tuulola’s game continues to grow. When he returns to health, the IceHogs should hopefully see a boost from the back-end. Grade: B-
  • Carl Dahlstrom (22 GP, 1 G, 7 A, -11, 10 PIM)
    • Dahlstrom started the season with the IceHogs, but quickly showed why he was an AHL All-Star last season and that his game at both ends of the ice had improved beyond the AHL standards. Benefiting from injuries in Chicago, Dahlstrom looks to have made a home for himself in the Blackhawks rotation for the foreseeable future. Grade: B+
  • Lucas Carlsson (42 GP, 7 G, 15 A, -2, 22 PIM)
    • Consistent ice-time playing alongside Dahlstrom earlier this season definitely helped the transition for Carlsson to the North American game. The rookie defender is tied with Raddysh for the most points for defensemen on the IceHogs and continues to log high-end minutes at 5-on-5 and on special teams. Grade: B+
  • Andrew Campbell (40 GP, 3 G, 1 A, -3, 22 PIM)
    • Campbell joined an extremely young IceHogs locker room this season and has done everything asked of him. He plays a no-nonsense game in his own end and is a leader on and off the ice. Campbell was named the AHL Western Conference playing Captain at the AHL All-Star game, becoming the first IceHogs All-Star to be named a Captain. Grade: B
Rockford IceHogs Andrew Campbell

Andrew Campbell of the Rockford IceHogs. (Courtesy: Rockford IceHogs)

  • Blake Hillman (35 GP, 0 G, 2 A, -6, 12 PIM)
    • Hillman joined the Blackhawks late last season and made a bit of a splash in his NHL debuts. His transition to a full-season in professional hockey has left a bit to be desired. While he won’t light-up the score-sheet, Hillman’s defensive game has been so-so over his first full season. It will likely be a full AHL season for Hillman and will be determined this summer if the Blackhawks feel he is a part of the organization’s plans with so many young promising defensive prospect coming up behind him. Grade: C+
  • Dennis Gilbert (34 GP, 0 G, 5 A, -5, 41 PIM)
    • Much like Hillman, the other rookie defenseman on the IceHogs coming from the NCAA ranks, Gilbert has been a bit ho-hum in his first full professional season. Not an offensive-minded defender, Gilbert uses his size and physicality to his advantage to provide the IceHogs an edge from the blue-line. Leading the team in fighting majors this season, Gilbert could potentially fill a physical role with the Blackhawks in the near future. Grade: C+

The defensive group for the IceHogs this season needs to be healthy and at full strength to help get Rockford back into the Calder Cup Playoff race. If and when that happens, hopefully the consistent play can spark the offensive attack and continue to aid the goaltending and keep the IceHogs competitive every night.

The potential for late-season reinforcements to arrive in Rockford is there, it hopefully will not be something that the IceHogs rely on. If they can find a way to increase production from within, they will have a shot at yet again making a late-season Calder Cup Playoff push. If not, it will be a short Spring at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

If you missed yesterday’s Forwards group, you can find the grades here

Up next on Thursday we will give out grades for the Rockford IceHogs Goalie group.

What’s Next?

The Rockford IceHogs return to action following the AHL All-Star break on Friday, February 1 as they host the Chicago Wolves in another installment of the Illinois Lottery Cup Rivalry this season. Following Friday night’s game in Rockford, the IceHogs travel North to Milwaukee to take on the Admirals on Saturday night.

Puck drop on Friday at the BMO Harris Bank Center is scheduled for 7pm CT. The IceHogs hold a 4-3-1 record against the Wolves this season. On Saturday night, puck drop is scheduled for 7pm CT at the UW-Panther Arena in Milwaukee. The IceHogs hold a 3-2-1 record against the Admirals this season.

Center Ice Forums Rockford IceHogs Mid-Term Grades: Defensemen

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    Mario Tirabassi
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    As the AHL reaches the All-Star break and the Rockford IceHogs have nearly a week off, The-Rink takes a look at how the IceHogs have performed so far
    [To continue reading full article, click here: Rockford IceHogs Mid-Term Grades: Defensemen]

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