While the Indy Fuel continue to add players for the 2015-16 season on ECHL contracts, they are also a part of a three-tiered system that includes the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.
Last season, the Fuel received six players from the system — forward Jamie Wise, goaltender Mac Carruth and defensemen Kirill Gotovets, Justin Holl, Dillon Fournier and Mathieu Brisebois. They also had two other players under AHL contract on loan from others – Vincent Arseneau (Manchester) & Nick Jones (San Jose).
Take note, that this is all based on looking at the depth charts (the NHL depth chart provided by the Blackhawks website) and roster, and not on any “insider” information.
NHL: Kris Versteeg / Bryan Bickell / Andrew Desjardins / Ryan Garbutt / Joakim Nordstrom
AHL: Artemi Panarin / Brandon Mashinter / Garret Ross / Mike Llambas / Pierre-Cedric Labrie (RFD)
Of this group, the Blackhawks have significant depth, with four players with substantial NHL experience, and two pretty strong prospects in Nordstrom and Planarian. Mashinter has also played 23 NHL games and had 17 goals for Rockford. Ross just finished his second full AHL season and was a 21-goal scorer last year. Llambas is a recent 26-year-old free agent signing and an enforcer who played the last three seasons in the AHL. Labrie played in Rockford last season. He is a veteran who brings muscle to the lineup, with 113 PIM last season. Expect to see all of these players in the AHL or NHL.
NHL: Jonathan Toews / Artem Anisimov / Teuvo Teravainen / Marcus Kruger
AHL: Philip Danault (INJ) / Vincent Hinostroza / Tanner Kero / Dennis Rasmussen / Chris DeSousa (RFD)
Danault had 38pts for Rockford and played 2 games in CHI, Hinostroza had 44 points for Notre Dame last year, then, signed with Rockford and played five AHL games, Kero had five points in six games played for Rockford at end of last season as a rookie, Rasmussen 27 points for Rockford last season as a North American pro rookie.
DeSousa played very well for the Fuel last year and could get some reps in Indy if the IceHogs have significant depth and want him to get some games, but again, Rockford has a pretty good group here, although it is currently has enough healthy bodies to stock four NHL and four AHL lines.
NHL: Marian Hossa / Patrick Kane / Andrew Shaw / Marko Dano
AHL: Jeremy Morin / Viktor Tikhonov / Corey Tropp / Ryan Hartman / Kyle Baun / Ryan Haggerty / Mark McNeill / Daniel Ciampini (RFD) / Dane Walters (RFD)
Here is the position where Rockford has the greatest depth, and as a result, we’re likely to see players come to the ECHL – take note of Ciampini and Walters, who both played in the AHL last season. There are five players with a decent amount of NHL experience, and Dano is a high-level prospect, as is Tikhonov. Hartman, Baun, Taggerty and McNeill have all seen NHL time. Don’t be surprised to see some trade chips here.
NHL: Duncan Keith / Brent Seabrook, Trevor Daley / Niklass Hjarmalsson, Trevor van Riemsdyk / David Rundblad, Ville Pokka or Viktor Svedberg
AHL: Pokka or Svedberg, Cameron Schilling, Erik Gustafsson, Dillon Fournier, Kirill Gotovets (RFD), Nolan Valleau, Mathieu Brisebois, Sam Jardine (RFD), Nick Mattson (RFD)
Assuming seven defensemen in Chicago and seven in Rockford, this would leave the strongest possibilities to come to Indy to be Jardine or Mattson, both of whom are on Rockford contracts, or rookie Nolan Valleau, who recently finished his freshman year at Bowling Green and signed with the Blackhawks. Another possibility is Mathieu Brisebois, but he is one of just two right-shot D in this group. Gotovets, Fournier and Brisebois all played in Indy last season, and the first two showed pretty well in the AHL, while Brisebois played in the ECHL for Rapid City in the second half. He had 30 points in 36 games for the Rush at the end of last year. Jardine recently signed an AHL contract out of Ohio State after his junior season. He had 12 points in 33 games for the Buckeyes. Mattson played four years at North Dakota and also signed an AHL deal. He had 21 points in 33 games for North Dakota last season. A former USHL Defenseman of the Year with the Indiana Ice, it would be a homecoming for the former fan favorite.
NHL: Corey Crawford / Scott Darling
AHL: Michael Leighton / Mark Visentin (RFD) / Mac Carruth (RFD)
Barring a last-minute trade (like last year’s deal of Kent Simpson) or any injuries, it’s almost certain that one of these five goaltenders will be wearing the Fuel colors this year and sharing the net with Shane Owen – assuming two goaltenders in Chicago and two in Rockford. It’s likely to be the two players under contract to Rockford. Mark Visentin was an off-season signing, and Mac Carruth was signed to an AHL deal after playing much of the year with the Fuel last season. Visentin, a former first-round pick, did not play last year after posting a 3.25 GAA and .902 save percentage for AHL Portland in 2013-14, his second pro season. He also has played one NHL game. Carruth is also a third-year pro, having gone 17-13-7 with the Fuel, with a 2.55 GAA, .914 save percentage and three shutouts. He also was 2-1-0 in the AHL with a shutout.