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By: Nate Haeni

Rockford, Ill.-The success of the Chicago Blackhawks over the past six seasons can really be attributed to the organization’s commitment to building the team from within, primarily through the National Hockey League’s annual entry draft.

Beginning on Sunday, 210 draft eligible amateur hockey players will hear their names get called at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, moving them one step closer to their dream of playing at the game's top level.

Draft coverage begins on the NHL Network, NBC Sports Network and TSN at 1 p.m. (CT) and the first round kicks off at 2 p.m. with the Colorado Avalanche picking first.

Since joining the American Hockey League and becoming the top minor league affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007-08, the draft has provided the IceHogs with the core of the team's roster. At least one player from every Blackhawks draft class, beginning with the 2001 class up to last year’s crop, has played in a game in Rockford.

Over the past six seasons, 156 different players have pulled on an IceHogs sweater and skated in an AHL game with the club. Of the 156 skaters, 91 (58.3%) of them were drafted by an NHL team, while 48 (30.8%) were chosen by the Blackhawks.

Last season, 30 of the 44 (68.1%) players to suit up and play for Rockford were selected in the annual NHL Entry Draft, including 23 (52.3%) by the Blackhawks.

Players, however, who get selected this weekend, probably won't play at the professional level on a fulltime basis for a couple of seasons.  Of the eight players chosen by Chicago in last June's draft, only Garret Ross played professionally as he skated in a pair of games with Rockford. There will be at least seven players out of the 11 drafted from 2011 playing professionally in 2013-14.

Last season's IceHogs team had eight former first round picks play with the club (Kyle Beach, Phillip Danault, Nick Leddy, Kenndal McArdle, Mark McNeill, Rostislav Olesz, Dylan Olsen and Philippe Paradis). Beach (2008), Danault (2011), McNeill (2011) and Olsen (2009) were the first rounders picked by Chicago.

There were also seven second-round draft picks on the IceHogs ‘12-13 roster (Adam Clendening, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri, Brandon Saad, Maxime Sauve and Kent Simpson) with four of them (Clendening-2011, Saad-2011, Simpson-2010 and Pirri-2009) getting selected by the Blackhawks.

Of the 30 players on Rockford's team last season, seven of them were chosen by organization's other than the Blackhawks.

In the modern day of the NHL salary cap, the draft remains a crucial factor in a team’s long term success. The likes of Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, Dustin Byfuglien and Niklas Hjalmarsson were draft picks by Chicago, worked their way through Rockford and the AHL to become Stanley Cup Champions with the Blackhawks in 2010.

Other Chicago draft picks on the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship team include Adam Burish (2002) Patrick Kane (2007), Duncan Keith (2002), Brent Seabrook (2004) and Jonathan Toews (2006). Of the 26 players Stanley Cup roster, 10 (38.5%) of them were selected by Chicago in the NHL Draft.

Last season, of the 32 different players to suit up and play for the Blackhawks, 14 of them were drafted by the organization and developed in the system, including ten of which who played in Rockford.

Below are a few facts about the NHL draft picks that have played for the Rockford IceHogs:

Highest draft pick to play for the IceHogs:  Cam Barker (3rd overall in 2004 with Blackhawks)

Lowest draft pick to play for IceHogs:  Sean McMorrow (258th overall in 2000 with Buffalo)

Lowest Blackhawks draft pick to play for IceHogs:  Dustin Byfuglien (245th overall in 2000)

First Round Draft Selections to play for the IceHogs (18):
Mark McNeill, 18th overall (2011) by Blackhawks
Phillip Danualt, 26th overall (2011) by Blackhawks
Nick Leddy, 16th overall (2009) by Minnesota
Dylan Olsen, 28th overall (2009) by Blackhawks
Philippe Paradis, 27th overall (2009) by Carolina
Kyle Beach, 11th overall (2008) by Blackhawks
Ivan Vishnevskiy, 27th overall (2006) by Dallas
Kenndal McArdle, 20th overall (2005) by Florida
Jack Skille, 7th overall (2005) by Blackhawks
Cam Barker, 3rd overall (2004) by Blackhawks
Rostislav Olesz, 7th overall (2004) by Florida
Hugh Jessiman, 12th overall (2003) by New York Rangers
Hannu Toivonen, 29th overall (2002) by Bruins
Jeff Taffe, 30th overall (2000) by St. Louis
Nick Boynton, 21st overall (1999) by Bruins and 9th overall (1997) by Capitals
Sergei Samsonov, 8th overall (1997) by Bruins
Daniel Cloutier, 26th overall (1994) by Rangers
Jassen Cullimore, 29th overall (1991) by Vancouver

Blackhawks Picks by draft year to play with IceHogs:
2012: 1 (Ross)
2011: 6 (McNeill, Danault, Clendening, Saad, Dahlbeck, Shaw)
2010: 3 (Flick, Nordstrom, Simpson)
2009: 5 (Olsen, Pirri, Froese, Kruger, Gilbert)
2008: 4 (Beach, Lalonde, Carlsson, Smith)
2007: 3 (Aliu, Tanguay, Lavin)
2006: 4 (Makarov, Danis-Pepin, Palmer, LeBlanc)
2005: 10 (Skille, Blunden, Bertram, Brophey, Hjalmarsson, Davis, Turner, Fallon, Charlebois, Hobson)
2004: 7 (Barker, Bolland, Bickell, Berti, Dowell, Kontiola, Brouwer)
2003: 3 (Crawford, Brodeur, Byfuglien)
2002: 1 (Wisniewski)
2001: 1 (Keith)

Number of Players Picked by Round:
First Round: 18 (Barker, Beach, Boynton, Cloutier, Cullimore, Danault, Jessiman, Leddy, McArdle, McNeill, Olesz, Olsen, Paradis, Samsonov, Skille, Taffe, Toivonen, Vishnevskiy)
Second Round: 22 (Aliu, Bertram, Bickell, Blunden, Bolland, Christian, Clendening, Crawford, Cullimore, Danis-Pepin, Davis, Hayes, Keith, R. Johnson, Makarov, Morin, Pineault, Pirri, Richmond, Saad, Simpson, Stephenson)
Third Round: 11 (Berti, Bois, Brent, Brophey, Dahlbeck, Fraser, Johnson, Lalonde, Nordstrom, Potulny, Tanguay)
Fourth Round: 8 (Davis, Flick, B. Fahey, Froese, Hjalmarsson, Palmer, Petiot, Segal)
Fifth Round: 11 (Dowell, Flinn, Koci, Kruger, Lavin, Ross, Sawyer, Shaw, Turner, Versteeg, Wisniewski)
Sixth Round: 6 (Carlsson, Charlebois, DiDomenico, Fallon, Smith, Torquato)
Seventh Round: 7 (Archer, Brodeur, Brouwer, Gilbert, Hobson, Kontiola, LeBlanc)
Eighth Round: 5 (Byfuglien, Exelby, J. Fahey, McMorrow, Paiement)
Ninth Round: 2 (Flaherty, McLean)

Blackhawks Draft picks to play in Rockford by position:
Center: 16
Wings: 13
Defense: 14
Goalies: 5

Most games played by a draft pick: Evan Brophey, 232

Check out all week as we preview the 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Monday, June 24th:    Draft Breakdown at Blackhawks pick
Tuesday, June 25th:    Mock Drafts
Wednesday, June 26th:    Breakdown of the Blackhawks first overall picks over the past 10 years
Thursday, June 27th:   Draft Impact on the IceHogs
Friday, June 28th:    An update on the progress of all of Chicago’s draft picks from the 2011 and 2012 drafts

Season Tickets On Sale: Take advantage of all the great benefits that go along with IceHogs season tickets including same great seat for every game, never a wasted ticket policy, up to 30% savings off the price of tickets and more! Call (815) 847-6399 to reserve your seats or for more information.

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