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By: Chris Etheridge
Klinkhammer receives first career NHL contract in third professional season
Chicago, Ill.- Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon announced on Monday that the National Hockey League club has signed four players to entry-level contracts, including two players from the 2008-09 Rockford IceHogs roster.
Left wing Rob Klinkhammer, defensemen Jonathan Carlsson and Brian Connelly and goaltender Alec Richards all have agreed to a deal with the Blackhawks.
Klinkhammer finished the 2008-09 season tied for fifth on the IceHogs with 15 goals and ranked seventh with 33 points in 76 regular season games.  The Lethbridge, Alberta, native was tied for third on the squad with a +14 plus/minus rating.  He was also recognized as Rockford’s Unsung Hero for the 2008-09 campaign. The third-year pro was undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Norfolk Admirals in 2007. He has appeared in 142 career American Hockey League games over the last two seasons with the Norfolk Admirals (2007-08) and IceHogs, racking up 57 points (27g-30a) and 73 penalty minutes.
Connelly made his professional debut with Rockford last season after completing a three-year career at Colorado College. He notched three points (1g-2a) and six penalty minutes in nine regular season games after being signed to an amateur try-out agreement on March 23.  The 22-year-old also appeared in three postseason games with the Hogs. The Bloomington, Minn. native finished his third season with Colorado College (WCHA), leading team defensemen with 24 assists and 27 points in 38 contests. Connelly registered 66 career points (9g-57a) and 106 penalty minutes in 123 career games in three seasons with Colorado College.
Carlsson, 20, has spent each of the last three seasons in the Swedish Elite League, which includes posting one assist and 58 penalty minutes in 55 games with Brynas IF Gavle. The Uppsala, Sweden, native was selected 162nd overall (round 6) by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.  He becomes the second player from the most recent draft to sign with the Blackhawks after Kyle Beach inked a deal with the club in May.
Richards, 21, capped a four-year career at Yale University this spring with a 19-5-1 record, 2.06 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage, leading the club to the ECAC title. The Robbinsdale, Minn., native stands as the school’s all-time leader in save percentage (.923) and shutouts (six), while ranking second in wins (39) and goals-against average (2.68). Richards represented the United States at the IIHF World Championships in Switzerland in April and May.

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