As part of the Chicago Blackhawks system, the Indy Fuel are a key part of the development of Chicago players. And, as the college and junior seasons hit the homestretch, that often means the addition of a few new players in the spring as they matriculate from the NCAA and Canadian Major Junior levels to the pros.
What’s interesting about the Blackhawks’ prospect pool is Chicago’s depth, but also the organizational commitment to drafting U.S. college players – therefore allowing them more time to develop in college. Of the amateur prospects (drafted and unsigned players) in the Chicago organization, none are currently in Major Junior. Players drafted at 18 in major junior must be signed within two years. Those drafted from Europe have four years to sign, and those drafted from NCAA have until the end of their senior years, possibly six years after their draft year. As a result, just two players are “aging into” a professional spot this year, and could join the Fuel or the Rockford IceHogs if the Blackhawks choose to sign them: defensemen Nick Mattson and Michael Paliotta. Mattson is a senior at North Dakota, Paliotta at Vermont. Both are big, mobile defensemen with offensive instincts. Only one player “ages in” in 2016 – defenseman Sam Jardine, a junior at Ohio State – although NHL can sign players prior to the end of their eligibility and assign them to their minor-league affiliates.
In 2017, a number of players will hit their limit (1o, to be exact), with four each ready for 2018 and 2019. So, here’s a look at the organization to keep an eye on who might be wearing the red, black and gold in the near or distant future.
NHL teams are allowed to have 50 signed players at any given time (with up to 23 on the NHL roster and an unlimited number on the AHL roster) and 80 players on their “protected” or reserve lists. Currently, the Indy Fuel have two players under contract to the Blackhawks – goalie Mac Carruth and defenseman Dillon Fournier. They also have two under contract to the Rockford IceHogs – defenseman/wing Kirill Gotovets and defenseman Justin Holl. Jamie Wise (IceHogs) and Mathieu Brisebois (Blackhawks) also played with the Fuel from the organization, and Indy has had two players assigned from other organizations – Vincent Arseneau (Manchester Monarchs) and Nick Jones (Worcester Sharks).
Eligible to turn pro at the end of their college/junior seasons in 2015
Nick Mattson (6-1, 189, D, USA, 1991 birth-year): Mattson has plenty of experience, playing four years of junior hockey in the USHL (two with the Indiana Ice) and is now a senior at North Dakota. He was chosen in the sixth round (180th overall) by the Blackhawks in 2010. He had 55 points in 108 games with the Ice from 2009-11, and now had 14 goals and 47 assists for his college career in 132 games. He has a goal and three assists in 12 games this season.
Michael Paliotta (6-3, 207, D, USA, 1993 birth-year): He’d certainly be familiar with a lot of Fuel players – Paliotta played collegiately with four members of the Fuel roster at the University of Vermont. He is currently a senior at UVM, with five goals and 13 assists in 21 games. For his college career, he has 15 goals and 50 assists in 134 games. Chosen in the third round (70th overall) in 2011. Native of Westport, Conn. Rated the #17 Blackhawks prospect by Hockey’s Future and the #4 defenseman.
Eligible to turn pro in 2016 (or earlier if they sign prior to their senior year)
Sam Jardine (6-2, 204, D, Canada, 1993 birth-year): Sixth-round pick in 2011 (169th overall). Jardine is currently a junior at Ohio State, where he has seven assists in 16 games. He has a goal and 26 assists in 80 college games. Hails from Lacombe, Alberta.
Eligible to turn pro in 2017 (or earlier if they sign prior to their senior year)
Chris Calnan (6-2, 203, RW, USA, 1994 birth-year): Third-round pick in 2012 (79th overall). Currently a sophomore at Boston College, where he has 10 goals and five assists in 20 games. Native of Boston. Rated the #14 prospect and #3 RW in the organization by Hockey’s Future.
Carl Dahlstrom (6-4, 223, D, Sweden, 1995 birth-year): Second-round pick in 2013 (51st overall). Dahlstrom is in his second year playing professionally in Sweden, playing for Linkopings, where he has two goals and two assists in 37 games. Rated the #15 prospect in the organization and #7 defenseman (right behind the Fuel’s Dillon Fournier) by Hockey’s Future.
John Hayden (6-3, 217, C, USA, 1995 birth-year): Third-round pick in 2013 (74th overall). Alum of the USNTDP program, currently a sophomore at Yale, where he has three goals and seven assists in 12 games. Another sizable player who hails from Chicago. Rated the #19 Chicago prospect by Hockey’s Future.
Vince Hinostroza (5-9, 158, C, USA, 1994 birth-year): Sixth-round pick in 2012 (169th overall). Had back-to-back 20-goal seasons in the USHL with the Waterloo Black Hawks. Currently a sophomore at Notre Dame, where he has three goals and 17 points in 22 games. Another Illinoisian, from Bartlett, Ill. Rated as the #12 prospect in the organization by Hockey’s Future.
Luke Johnson (5-11, 179, C, USA, 1994 birth-year): Fifth-round pick in 2013 (134th overall). The Grand Forks, ND native is a sophomore at North Dakota, where he has four goals and six assists in 21 games. Had 101 points in two USHL seasons with Lincoln.
Anthony Louis (5-7, 145, C, USA, 1995 birth-year): Sixth-round pick in 2013 (181st overall). After playing two seasons with the USNDTP, he is a sophomore at Miami University, where he has three goals and 16 points in 19 games. Native of suburban Chicago.
Tyler Motte (5-9, 190, C, USA, 1995 birth-year): Fourth-round pick in 2013 (121st overall). Sophomore at Michigan, where he has five goals and 13 assists in 17 games. He had 18 points in 34 games as a freshman. Rated the #13 prospect and #3 LW in the organization by Hockey’s Future.
Robin Norell (5-11, 189, D, Sweden, 1995 birth-year): Fourth-round pick in 2013 (111th overall). Is playing professionally in Sweden for Djurgardens, with a goal and five assists in 31 games. Hails from Stockholm.
Robin Press (6-3, 205, D, Sweden, 1994 birth-year): Seventh-round pick in 2013 (211th overall). Currently playing professionally in Sweden, and putting up big offensive numbers for Sodertalje, with 11 goals and 16 assists in 31 games.
Matt Tomkins (6-3, 180, G, Canada, 1994 birth-year): Currently a sophomore at Ohio State, with a 4-5-1 record, .890 save percentage and 2.82 GAA this season. Currently the lone amateur goaltender in the Chicago system. Seventh-round pick (199th overall) in 2012.
Eligible to turn pro in 2018 (or earlier if they sign prior to their senior year)
Nick Schmaltz (6-0, 171, C, USA, 1996 birth-year): The Blackhawks’ first-round pick in 2014 (20th overall), Schmaltz is a freshman at North Dakota. He has three goals and 13 assists in 17 games. The Verona, Wisconsin native had back-to-back 18-goal seasons in the USHL with Green Bay prior to this year, and tallied 115 points in 109 games in those two seasons. Rated as Chicago’s #2 prospect by Hockey’s Future behind Teuvo Teravainen.
Dylan Sikura (5-11, 143, C, Canada, 1995 birth-year): Sixth-round pick in 2014 (178th overall). He is currently a freshman at Northeastern, with a goal and two assists in 14 games. He had 64 points in 41 games in the Junior A OHJL playing for his hometown team in Aurora, Ontario last year.
Luc Snuggerud (6-0, 179, D, USA, 1995 birth-year): Currently a freshman at Nebraska-Omaha, where he has two goals and nine assists in 22 games. Was drafted in the fifth round (141st overall) in 2014.
Andreas Soderberg (6-4, 205, D, Sweden, 1996 birth-year): Big defenseman who was chosen in the fifth round (148th overall) in 2014. Currently playing junior hockey in Sweden.
Eligibile to turn pro in 2019 (or earlier if they sign prior to their senior year)
Matt Iacopelli (6-2, 192, RW, USA, 1994 birth-year): Drafted as an overager in 2014 in the third round (83rd overall), he was a big scorer with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks last year, with 41 goals and 63 points in 58 games. He currently has 14 goals in 32 games with the Lumberjacks this year. Committed to play college hockey at Western Michigan. Hails from Woodfield, Mich. Rated as the #18 overall prospect in the organization by Hockey’s Future.
Fredrik Olofsson (6-2, 192, LW, Sweden, 1996 birth-year): Fourth-round pick in 2014 (98th overall), he is currently in his full USHL season with the Chicago Steel. He had 14 goals and 14 assists in 28 games. He is committed to play college hockey at Colorado College this fall.
Jack Ramsey (6-3, 185, RW, USA, 1995 birth-year): Seventh-round pick in 2014 (208th overall). He is currently playing Junior A hockey in the BCHL with the Penticton Vees, with 12 goals and 17 assists in 38 games. Committed to play collegiately at Minnesota.
Beau Starrett (6-5, 200, C, USA, 1995 birth-year): Third-round pick in 2014 (88th overall). He is currently playing Tier III Junior A hockey with the South Shore Kings, where he has five points in seven games this season. He had 47 points in 48 games with the Kings last year. Committed to play college hockey at Cornell. Hails from Framingham, Mass.