With another round of cuts, the Chicago Blackhawks have the NHL roster down to 28 … and that means several players that are ticketed for one of the team’s two affiliates – the AHL Rockford IceHogs or the ECHL Indy Fuel.
Rockford is opening its training camp this week, and the Indy Fuel will start seeing players arrive prior to their preseason games scheduled (Oct. 7-8 in Alaska and Oct. 12 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum). The opener will be Oct. 17 against Fort Wayne.
Rockford has 33 players on its training camp roster (updated Tuesday with addition of Bass & Labrie)
Broken down by contract:
- Blackhawks signees (11): Dennis Rasmussen, Drew LeBlanc, Phillip Danault, Joakim Nordstrom, Alex Broadhurst, Garret Ross, Matt Carey, Mark McNeill, Ryan Schnell, Cody Bass, Pierre-Cedric Labrie
- IceHogs signees/invites (3): Scott Brannon, Winston Day Chief, Jamie Wise
- Fuel signees (3): Garrett Klotz, Brett Perlini, Klarc Wilson
- Blackhawks signees (9): Adam Clendening, Zach Miskovic, Stephen Johns, Mathieu Brisebois, Viktor Svedberg, Dillon Fournier, Klas Dahlbeck, Kirill Gotovets, Justin Holl
- IceHogs signees/invites (3): Ildar Telyakov, Paul Swindlehurst, Brett Kostolansky
- Fuel signees (1): Nick Bruneteau
- Blackhawks signees (3): Scott Darling, Kent Simpson, Mac Carruth
Meanwhile, the 28 players currently on the Blackhawks roster:
- Left wings (5): Bryan Bickell, Brandon Mashinter, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg
- Centers (6): Marcus Kruger, Peter Regin, Brad Richards, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Jonathan Toews
- Right wings (5): Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith
- Defensemen (9): Kyle Cumiskey, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Michael Roszival, David Rundblad, Brent Seabrook, Trevor Van Riemsdyk
- Goaltenders (3): Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta, Michael Leighton
That roster needs to be trimmed to 23 by the start of the season, which means 5 players will be either sent down or traded. Expect at least 2 forwards (cutting the 16 down to 14), 2 defensemen and goaltender Michael Leighton to head to the AHL roster. Teravainen has been widely believed to be heading down, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ryan Hartman also be sent to Rockford. Both are 20 years old and on entry-level deals. It’s likely at least one defenseman will be dealt — a trade of Oduya or Leddy would allow the Hawks to get under the cap and likely open up a spot for one of their many young prospects — and at least one more will go to Rockford. Keith, Hjalmarsson, Roszival, Seabrook and at least one of Leddy/Oduya will assuredly stick in Chicago, leaving Roszival, Cumiskey, Rundblad and Van Riemsdyk to fight for one or two spots. Roszival is likely to stick in the NHL. Cumiskey has experience (27 years old). Van Riemsdyk has impressed in his first training camp. Both he and Rundblad are 23 and could spend the year developing in the minors. Or Cumiskey could go to Rockford to give the team some additional veteran depth on the blueline.
What does that mean for the Fuel?
Forwards: Looking at numbers, Rockford currently has 14 forwards in camp (under contract to Chicago or Rockford) and will likely expect 2 more from Chicago. That would indicate 1-2 forwards being sent to Indy to join the 11 under Fuel contract. An ECHL team usually dresses 10 forwards per game, so the Fuel already has a full complement of forwards.
Defensemen: On defense, the Fuel have four D under contract. Rockford has 12 D in camp, with at least 1-2 more coming. Expect to see 3-4 defensemen to be sent to the Fuel, as the Blackhawks will use the AHL & ECHL teams to give ice time to their many defense prospects. Which ones? It’s hard to say specifically which ones, but it’ll be a handful of young prospects the Blackhawks want to see get some ice time. Chicago is loaded with young prospect depth at the blueline, and the Fuel will soon be benefiting from that.
Goaltenders: In goal, once Leighton is optioned to Rockford (which is expected if Crawford and Raanta stay healthy), two of Simpson, Darling and Carruth will likely come to Indy. Simpson has NHL experience (he played 20 minutes in Chicago last year). Carruth also has been with the Blackhawks, although he has yet to appear in a game. Darling is a former Indiana Ice goaltender who signed with the Chicago organization in the offseason. All three have AHL experience. The Fuel will have to keep a goaltender at the ready in case of an injury to any of the goalies in Chicago or Rockford.
The Blackhawks have played four exhibition games so far, with a number of “system” players having dressed.
Sunday: Hawks 5, Oilers 0: Scott Darling had a shutout. Kris Versteeg, Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen, Garret Ross and Andrew Shaw all scored.
Friday: Rangers 4, Hawks 1: Dennis Rasmussen scored for Chicago.
Wednesday: Red Wings 3, Hawks 2: Bryan Bickell and Garret Ross scored for Chicago
Tuesday: Hawks 2, Red Wings 1, OT: Scott Darling got his first win of the preseason with 31 shutout minutes. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored goals.
Players who have been sent to the Rockford camp/released by Chicago (by date)
Sept. 23: F-Ryan Schnell, D-Justin Holl, Zach Miskovic, Kirill Gotovets; G Kent Simpson, Mac Carruth
Sept. 26: F-Mark McNeill, Alex Broadhurst, Drew LeBlanc; D-Mathieu Brisebois, Dillon Fournier, Viktor Svedberg
Sept. 27: F-Phillip Danault, Matt Carey; D-Stephen Johns. Released D Cam Barker
Sept. 29: F-Joakim Nordstrom, Dennis Rasmussen, Garret Ross, Cody Bass, Pierre-Cedric Labrie; D-Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck; G-Scott Darling.
Meanwhile, the current Fuel roster
Rhett Bly (R). 5-10, 185. Age 24. Shoots L. 2013-14: Merrimack College (NCAA)
Dean Chelios (R). 6-2, 185. Age: 25. Shoots L. 2013-14: Michigan State University (NCAA)/Toledo Walleye (ECHL)
Robert Czarnik. 6-0, 188. Age: 24. Shoots R. 2013-14: Manchester Monarchs/Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)
Garrett Klotz (V). 6-6, 250. Age: 25. Shoots L. 2013-14: Allen Americans (CHL)
Taylor Law (R). 6-2, 200. Age: 24. Shoots L. 2013-14: Canisius (NCAA)/Elmira Jackals (ECHL)
Pete Massar (R). 5-9, 180. Age 25. Shoots R. 2013-14: Vermont (NCAA)/Missouri Mavericks (CHL)
Kenton Miller. 6-0, 196. Age: 23. Shoots L. 2013-14: Utah/Fort Wayne (ECHL)
Brett Perlini. 6-0, 202. Age: 24. Shoots L. 2013-14: Greenville Road Warriors/Toledo Walleye (ECHL)
Cory Thorson (R). 6-2, 200. Age: 24. Shoots L. 2013-14: St. Cloud State (NCAA)
Matt White (R). 6-2, 198. Age: 22. Shoots L. 2013-14: Vermont (NCAA)
Klarc Wilson (R). 6-2, 206. Age: 21. Shoots R. 2013-14: Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Nick Bruneteau (R). 5-10, 182. Age: 22. Shoots: R. 2013-14: Vermont (NCAA)/Reading Royals (ECHL)
Kyle Follmer (R). 5-10, 202. Age: 27. Shoots L. 2012-13: Northern Michigan (NCAA)
Anders Franzon. 6-3, 196. Age 25. Shoots R. 2013-14: Missouri Mavericks (CHL)
Zach Sternberg (R). 6-0, 187. Age 23. Shoots R. 2013-14: Lake Superior State (NCAA)