ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs, proud American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), announced today that forward Chris Wilkie has re-signed with the club on an AHL contract for the 2021-22 season.
Wilkie, 24, finished fourth on the IceHogs and second among team rookies last season with 14 points in 22 games and tied for the team lead with eight goals with forwards Dylan McLaughlin and Brandon Pirri. The Omaha, Nebraska, native also tied for the AHL lead with three shorthanded markers last season, including his first professional goal during his pro debut on Feb. 9 at Chicago. He also tied the team lead with a plus-minus rating of +6.
“He loves the game,” said IceHogs Head Coach Derek King. “He reminds me a lot of McLaughlin when he first came to us. I told him that if he does what Dylan did and stops being the perimeter guy, you’re going to get more offense then you think. This is what he’s got to work on. We know he can score goals when the puck is on his stick. His hands are going in the air all the time. When he works hard to get the puck back, he’s going to really shine as a player.”
The 6-foot, 185-pound forward opened his rookie season with three goals and an assist for four points in his first five games and found a groove in late March, adding two goals and four assists for six points over three games from Mar. 22-28 including a season-high three-point performance (two goals, one assist) on Mar. 22 vs. Iowa.
“I’m really excited,” mentioned Wilkie. “When the opportunity came to re-sign, I jumped on that. Being a little bit older than some of the guys coming in last year made it a little more of an easier adjustment. The coaching staff was great helping us get going quickly. It was a pretty solid year for myself and in my first season, I wanted to start strong and make a name for myself and earn that next contract. That’s everyone’s goal in professional hockey. It’s nice to get that done and now I can work on improving my game and getting stronger and faster to make more of an impact every game. I think consistency is such a big thing in pro hockey. You can’t take a game or a shift off.”
Prior to turning pro, Wilkie completed a four-year collegiate career at Colorado College (2018-20) and the University of North Dakota (2015-17) totaling 69 points (35 goals, 34 assists) in 116 games and claimed a National Championship with North Dakota in 2016. In 2019-20, he led Colorado College with 31 points and 23 goals to earn a spot on the NCHC Honorable Mention All-Star Team.