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Recent Signees Could End Up In Rockford, Blueline Looking Rosey

06/01/2012 1:08 PM - Mike Peck
The Chicago Blackhawks have been very busy this past week, signing several of their draft picks from the past two entry drafts. The organization is really staying true to their draft to help replenish the big club.

After the signing of Adam Clendening on June 1, the Blackhawks already have inked six of their 11 draft picks from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. That’s 54.5% of the picks under contract, already ahead of the rate from the previous eight drafts where the Hawks signed on average 53.8% of their picks or had them play in the organization. The six players signed from a single draft class is the most for Chicago since the 2005 draft when the Blackhawks signed 10 of their 12 picks.

Players signed less than a year since last June’s draft include first round selections Mark McNeill (#18 overall), Phillip Danault (#26 overall), Clendening (#36 overall), Brandon Saad (#43 overall), Klas Dahlbeck (#79 overall) and Andrew Shaw (#139 overall).

The above list includes the team’s first four picks in the draft. The list doesn’t include Alex Broadhurst (#199 overall) who tore up the USHL this season, helping the Green Bay Gamblers to the Clark Cup Championship and will attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall.  Alex is the younger brother of Terry Broadhurst who will be in Rockford this fall.

Going back to the 2010 draft, Chicago has four of their 10 picks locked up under contract, including Kent Simpson (#58 overall), Joakim Nordstrom (#90 overall), Rob Flick (#120 overall) and Mac Carruth (#191 overall).

The number seems light, but the Blackhawks haven’t signed four of their top five picks from the draft including Kevin Hayes (#24 overall), Ludvig Rensfeldt (#35 overall), Justin Holl (#54 overall) and Stephen Johns (#60 overall).  This class doesn’t need to be under contract until next summer (or Chicago loses the players’ rights) and Hayes (Boston College), Holl (U. of Minnesota) and Johns (Notre Dame) will all get their junior seasons of NCAA hockey under their belts in 2012-13.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Clendening and Dahlbeck will both more than likely be in Rockford. Both are d-men and will add depth to the Blackhawks farm system, thought of lately as thin on defense.

Clendening won’t be 20 year olds until Oct. 26, so he’ll begin his first pro season as a 19-year-old rookie. At 5-11, 190lb, Clendening should eventually help boast the IceHogs power play as he led all Boston University defensemen in scoring with 33 points including 4g-29a. He’s classified as a finesse player with skill and a solid skater. The “X” factor of course is how it translates to the pro game.

The Niagara Falls, NY native could develop into an adequate replacement for Brian Connelly in Rockford. Similar size with a similar skill set.

Dahlbeck will bring some Swedish flavor back to the IceHogs. The 6-2, 200lb blueliner will also provide some bulk on the backline for Rockford. With some of the defensive zone issues that Rockford and Chicago had last season (specifically making that first pass), Dahlbeck could turn into a necessity for the organization with  some development in Rockford.

If the Hawks are able to come to terms with Holl and or Johns next summer, the depth at defense hopefully won’t be as much of an issue as I think it’s been over the past couple of seasons. I’m not sure Dylan Olsen will be a full-time NHL graduate in 2012-13, but he’s on the right track. Throw in Ryan Stanton and Joe Lavin, and there are three d-men that are developing nicely in Rockford.

The upcoming season will be a big one for Shawn Lalonde as well.  One of the biggest issues for Lalonde in Rockford is finding his hockey identity. Chicago’s second pick (third round, #68 overall) in the 2008 draft, Lalonde struggled offensively while trying to get his defensive priorities straightened out.

His production dipped from 5g-27a-32pts as rookie in 2010-11 to 2g-11a-13pts a season ago. Scouts still salivate over Lalonde’s skating and he has a strong shot from the point. If he can figure it out, that would be another strong defenseman prospect in the Blackhawks system.

Right now, Rockford’s backend to start 2012-13 could look something like this:

Ryan Stanton-Dylan Olsen
Ben Youds-Joe Lavin
Shawn Lalonde-Klas Dahlbeck
Adam Clendening

With the potential of Justin Holl and Stephen Johns entering the system in 2013-14 coupled with the possibility of adding a d-man or two (or three) to the cupboard in this month’s draft, the blueline is shaping up to be a strength for the Blackhawks.