We focus a lot on the prospects in the Blackhawks’ organization, but the Rockford IceHogs have signed a handful of AHL players for the coming season to provide some depth below the NHL level as the Blackhawks allow their newly-drafted players time to develop in juniors or college.
There are a few players who signed entry-level or two-way contracts with the Blackhawks who we should consider IceHogs at least to start the coming season.
Cole Guttman, F (ELC)
Filip Roos, D (ELC)
Buddy Robinson, F
Luke Philip, F
Brett Seney, F
Then there’s the long list of players who have signed AHL contracts with the IceHogs. Keep in mind some of these players may find themselves in Indy with the Fuel (ECHL) with the option to come up to Rockford if/when needed because of injuries, trades or promotions.
None of the players listed below have an impact on the Blackhawks’ 50 NHL contract spots, so they would need to sign another entry-level contract with the Blackhawks to be an option to promote to the NHL. Right now, the Blackhawks show 45 players with NHL contracts.
Riley McKay, F
Kale Howarth, F
Seamus Malone, F
Bobby Lynch, F
David Gust, F
Morgan Adams-Moisan, F
Adam Clendening, D
Andrew Perrott, D
Koletrane Wilson, D
Cliff Watson, D
Dylan Wells, G
Mitchell Weeks, G
That’s a lot of players signed to AHL deals, which might initially freak you out. Especially when you consider the Blackhawks have two tremendously mediocre goaltenders signed to NHL contracts so Arvid Söderblom is likely headed back to Rockford for another season (though call-ups are highly likely given the injury histories of Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock). Chicago also still has Jaxson Stauber in net for Rockford with an NHL entry-level deal, so our guess is that both Wells and Weeks are swing-guys who will spend a lot of time in Indy with the Fuel in the ECHL but can come up as needed when Söderblom is in Chicago.
What makes the stockpile of defensemen signed even more interesting is the Blackhawks’ ongoing additions to the blue line with NHL contracts. Signing Jack Johnson means the Blackhawks now have six veteran NHL defensemen signed; Ian Mitchell is the most likely IceHogs blue liner to see a move up to the NHL but he’ll now have to fight for that roster spot and any ongoing ice time considerations.
The IceHogs will likely have (without including Mitchell) at least seven skaters with NHL contracts on their roster: Nicolas Beaudin, Jakub Galvas, Alec Regula, Alex Vlasic, Isaak Phillips and Roos (GM Kyle Davidson’s first European free agent signing). From this list, only Roos hasn’t seen the NHL ice at some point during his professional career.
But the signings of four more defensemen to AHL deals could be an indication that someone is on his way out at some point. The return of Clendening to Rockford likely signals he’ll be a veteran leader for the IceHogs, but with the collection of skaters already in Rockford that’s too many bodies.
We’re going to keep our eyes on the AHL transaction report to see if Rockford signs any more players to their roster as we get closer to training camp.