Rockford IceHogs roster already starting to take shape for 2019-20 season

Rockford IceHogs

Rockford IceHogs roster already starting to take shape for 2019-20 season

The Rockford IceHogs roster is already starting to take shape for the 2019-20 season. Derek King was locked up as the head coach on April 25, as was assistant coach Anders Sorensen.

And the roster moves are beginning to follow.

In the past few days, the IceHogs announced that they have inked goaltender Chase Marchand and forwards Nick Moutrey and Mathew Thompson to one-year AHL contracts. 

Marchand, who's the cousin of Bruins winger Brad Marchand, spent three seasons at St. Francis Xavier University, where he went 34-23-0 with a 2.67 goals against average and .916 save percentage in 60 appearances. The 23-year-old netminder also had a .930 save percentage in 10 playoff games this past season, showing flashes of his sophomore campaign when he was named the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) most valuable player, goaltender of the year and to the first All-Star team.

Moutrey, 23, has spent the last four seasons in the AHL with Lake Erie, Cleveland and Rockford. He also had a brief stint in the ECHL with the Manchester Monarchs before getting loaned to the IceHogs, where he had five points (one goal, four assists) in 49 games. He's expected to take on a larger role next season.

Thompson was one of the bright spots for the Indy Fuel this past season. He ranked third on the team with 50 points and was one of four players to score at least 20 goals. Turning 26 in October, the Blackhawks are ready to see if his game can translate to the next level professionally.

Other notable decisions:

— Nicolas Beaudin, who was taken in the first round, 27th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, is expected to turn pro after four seasons in the QMJHL. He's likely to start the season in Rockford if he doesn't make the Blackhawks out of training camp.

— Evan Barratt will reportedly return to Penn State for his junior season, joining Ian Mitchell, who already announced that he will be going back to Denver for his junior year.

— Brandon Hagel, Reese Johnson and Philipp Kurashev all joined the IceHogs for the stretch run this spring and are likely to be in the mix next season. Hagel's entry-level contract started this season while Johnson's and Kurashev's will kick in next season.

— Jacob Nilsson signed a one-year contract extension to remain in the Blackhawks organization. He was named IceHogs MVP at the end of the season.

— MacKenzie Entwistle has spent the past five seasons in the OHL and averaged a point per game this season for the first time. He's also been a big reason why the Guelph Storm have had a deep playoff run. His entry-level contract will start next season, and the Blackhawks may want him in Rockford after proving himself in the OHL.

Contract situations:

— Forwards Peter Holland, Andreas Martinsen, Jordan Schroeder and Tyler Sikura and defensemen Andrew Campbell and Brandon Davidson are unrestricted free agents. Given the influx of talent, there may not be room for any of them to re-sign.

— Forwards Victor Ejdsell, Luke Johnson, Anthony Louis, Dylan Sikura and Spencer Watson and defenseman Blake Hillman and goaltender Anton Forsberg are restricted free agents.

The big question mark in this group is what happens to Forsberg. With Collin Delia expected to be the backup to Corey Crawford on the Blackhawks next season and the IceHogs perhaps wanting to give Kevin Lankinen more starts, both sides could be looking for a fresh start — although Forsberg had a solid season in Rockford and goaltending depth is crucial in today's NHL.

— And then we have the rest who are already under contract, along with the players mentioned above: Forwards Alexandre Fortin, Matthew Highmore, Graham Knott Nathan Noel and defensemen Adam Boqvist, Lucas Carlsson, Dennis Gilbert, Henri Jokiharju, Chad Krys and Joni Tuulola and goaltender Kevin Lankinen.

If Boqvist doesn't make the Blackhawks out of camp, he's expected to return to the London Knights. The expectation is that Jokiharju will be a full-time NHLer next season.

One thing is for sure: The IceHogs are getting significant reinforcements in 2019-20. And that will make competition far more interesting with a handful of higher end prospects under the same roof and under more developmental control by the Blackhawks.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Which forwards are on the bubble for Blackhawks?

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Which forwards are on the bubble for Blackhawks?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss the roster being trimmed to 30 and the forwards that are on the bubble. 

The guys weigh in on Kirby Dach’s situation and whether he will end up playing nine games with the big club. How does Calvin de Haan’s status impact Adam Boqvist’s chances of making the team and what did Duncan Keith think about Boqvist’s between the legs move last week?

Plus, they discuss Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome practicing on the same line. 

1:30 - Forwards on the bubble

3:35 - Alex Nylander evaluation

6:15 - Kirby Dach chances of going to Europe

7:45 - Dylan Sikura sent to Rockford

11:18 - de Haan’s availability

14:15 - Will Boqvist make the team?

15:45 - Boqvist highlight reel play

19:25 - Third line appears to be set in stone

21:45 - Kane on different lines

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Breaking down Blackhawks' final roster battles of 2019 training camp


Breaking down Blackhawks' final roster battles of 2019 training camp

In a matter of days, the Blackhawks trimmed their roster nearly in half as they look to finalize their Opening Day roster. But the hard part is just beginning.

The ones who have made it this far means they've given the coaching staff and management group something to think about. And that's exactly how the Blackhawks want it. They want these decisions to be difficult.

"It’s great to be down to one group, but it’s such a big group," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We’re in that middle ground where it is nice to just focus on the guys that are immediately in the mix for our team but it’s a lot of guys to manage for one practice. ... Eventually that won’t be the case anymore, but it is nice to be able to spend a little more time with only the guys who are potentially going to play for us."

Teams have until Oct. 1 to become cap compliant with its official 23-man roster, but the Blackhawks are allowed to take 25 overseas for their season opener in Prague. The Blackhawks depart for Berlin on Thursday and they must make a few more cuts before then, currently sitting at 30 players after assigning forward Jacob Nilsson and defenseman Philip Holm to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs on Monday.

So let's break down the final position battles left of 2019 training camp:

Goaltenders (3):
— Corey Crawford 
— Collin Delia
— Robin Lehner

There isn't much debate here. Crawford and Lehner will be the two goaltenders on Day 1, but Delia serves as a dependable No. 3 option throughout the season if needed.

Defensemen (10):
— Adam Boqvist
— Carl Dahlstrom
— Calvin de Haan
— Dennis Gilbert
— Erik Gustafsson
— Duncan Keith
— Slater Koekkoek
— Olli Maatta
— Connor Murphy
— Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks essentially have five defensemen locked in: Gustafsson, Keith, Maatta, Murphy and Seabrook. If he's healthy for opening day, de Haan will round out the group. The seventh defenseman spot is the one that's to be determined.

Boqvist and Gilbert will probably start the season in Rockford but Colliton said Monday that they're both still in the mix and, at the very least, are getting some valuable experience. They're still viewed as long-shots, but it's a good sign that they're still around.

That leaves Dahlstrom and Koekkoek as the two guys competing for the final spot and, although unlikely, the possibility of carrying eight defensemen hasn't been ruled out. Dahlstrom and Koekkoek would have to go through waivers if they were to be assigned to Rockford, so that plays into the equation. 

Forwards (17):
— Drake Caggiula
— Ryan Carpenter
— Kirby Dach
— Alex DeBrincat
— David Kampf
— Patrick Kane
— Dominik Kubalik
— Alex Nylander
— Brendan Perlini
— John Quenneville
— Brandon Saad
— Aleksi Saarela
— Andrew Shaw
— Zack Smith
— Dylan Strome
— Jonathan Toews
— Anton Wedin

This is where the roster battles get interesting. The forward group is starting to become clearer, but the bubble spots are still up for grabs.

Here are the six forwards who appear to be battling for the final few spots: Dach, Nylander, Perlini, Quenneville, Saarela and Wedin. And each situation is different.

Dach remains out with a concussion, but he skated on his own again on Monday and the Blackhawks aren't going to make a decision on his status until they see him practicing with the team and in game action.

Nylander has been a standout at training camp, but he was quiet in Saturday's preseason game against Boston and the Blackhawks are looking for consistency out of him.

Perlini was a healthy scratch on Saturday and there's a chance he could be on Wednesday also. The Blackhawks know what they have in him so he could be an option for the 13th or 14th forward spot, somebody who can rotate in and out of the lineup and give the team bursts.

Quenneville has been out for almost a week with a hip injury, so he's losing some valuable evaluation time. But the Blackhawks don't want to make a final decision on him until they have to. 

Saarela is the prospect who didn't get a shot in Carolina but could in Chicago. It's still more than likely he starts the season in Rockford, but the fact he hasn't been among the first two rounds of cuts is a positive sign about what his chances could be of a call-up mid-season.

And then there's Wedin, who was given a shot in the third-line center role on Saturday and he held his own. They like the versatility he brings.

All that being said, there might be only one everyday forward spot available and the other one or two as the extras, depending on how many players the Blackhawks want to carry once they return from Prague. Wednesday's preseason contest against the Washington Capitals in Chicago will be the final chance for some players in this group to make their cases before the Blackhawks head to Europe and reduce their roster one last time.

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