CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS 2012/13 – PLAYER BY PLAYER SEASON PREVIEW

Patrick Kane NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Photo by Matt Boulton [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In preparation for the 2012-13 NHL Season, IceNationUK will be taking a look at each team on a player-by-player basis.  This isn’t really about predicting overall how well the teams will do, where they’ll end up in the standings, line combinations, or even guessing at individual player stats, but is more about analysing the make-up of each roster.  Of course rosters are yet to be finalised, but I will be using the rosters as stated on each individual team’s website.

I am by no means an expert on every single player in the league, but through looking at traditional “box car” stats (G, A, P, PIMs, TOI, +/-, etc.) and also using Robert Vollman’s Player Usage Charts, I hope to piece together a reasonable, realistic view of each player.  Please don’t hesitate to comment if you agree or disagree.

So without further ado, here is the anticipated 2012-13 roster for the Chicago Blackhawks.

FORWARDS

Jonathan Toews NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Photo by Resolute (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

PLAYER

POSITION

2011-12 SEASON STATS

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

BRYAN BICKELL

LW

71

9

 15

24

Whilst this season was perhaps disappointing for Bickell when compared to his first full NHL season in 10-11 (where he scored 17 goals and 37 points), I’d say he actually did pretty well.  Why, you may ask.  Well consider that Bickell only played 12:08 per game, with only 28 seconds of PP time per game and no PK time whatsoever, and that he started in the offensive zone a tiny bit less than 40% of the time and played tough competition, for a guy in only his second full season to put up 24 points is still pretty impressive all things considered.  Add to that that he’s never really been a big time scorer in any league, and that he was buoyed in part by a relatively high 13.1% shooting percentage last year which came down to a more average 10.7% in 11-12, and I’d say what the Blackhawks have here is a good 3rd or 4th line player who is no dud on offence and a pretty reliable player to have on the ice 5v5 – whilst his shot differential was negative, it wasn’t awful and when you consider the situations he was playing in it would be pretty tough for anyone to outshoot the competition, let alone a 2nd year player.  Beyond that, Bickell is huge (6’4″, 233lbs) and provides a physical presence with 128 hits.  I’d look for a small improvement this year, although that depends on whether he’s kept in a limited-but-tough minutes role or given more minutes in easier situations.  I reckon somewhere in between.  Like this player.

DAVE BOLLAND

 C

76

 19

18

37

Bolland should get a damn medal for what he does for Chicago.  He was a big time scorer in junior, playing on a famous line with notorious hockey/lacrosse hybrid Robbie Schremp and (now) career minor leaguer Dylan Hunter, but despite being the most successful of those 3 – being the only one that stuck in the NHL – that is not what he is in the big leagues.  Bolland plays amongst the toughest minutes, not just on the team but in the entire league!  If you see the Vollman charts, Bolland is in the top left corner of the top left quadrant of the graph.  This means he is playing the toughest competition of any forward on the team, and has the least offensive zonestarts of any player – nearly as low as 30%!  As a result, his shot metrics take an absolute beating, but yet there is something amazing about Bolland.  He can still score.  To be able to put up nearly 20 goals and 40 points, not to mention still managing to break even in +/-, in this context is nothing short of miraculous, and I’ve no idea what the Hawks would do without him.  He plays in all situations (5v5, PP, PK), although he could stand to improve his faceoff percentage – but that’s a minor niggle.  He’s a proven playoff producer aswell, putting up some of the best scoring totals on the team each year, including 16 points in 22 games in 09-10 when they won the Cup.  In short, a wonderful hockey player.

DANIEL CARCILLO

 LW

28

 2

9

11

There was a time when I thought Carcillo was going to be a quality NHL scorer/agitator extraordinaire, after he broke in to the league with the Phoenix Coyotes scoring 13 goals in 57 games, but that proved to be a short lived spurt of excellence – not huge numbers but pretty good for a player of that type, but I should have known better as he was never a big time scorer anywhere previously.  Still, whilst he doesn’t score as much as I’d like, I was at least half correct – he has become one of the league’s most hated players due to perceived dirty plays and generally not being a particularly classy guy – his season ended early in 11-12 when he injured both himself and his “victim” when he intentionally tried to injure Oilers defender Tom Gilbert by ramming him late into the boards from behind (if I recall correctly).  Gilbert missed several games, whilst Carcillo injured his ACL and was out for the rest of the season, and he was also handed a 7 game suspension that he “served” before being announced as out for the season.  Despite all the antics and the drop in scoring, Carcillo is actually still a competent hockey player.  He plays low minutes and is sheltered by playing middling competition and getting 60%+ o-zone shift starts, but he performs very well by the shot metrics so is getting the puck towards the right part of the ice.  He is also extremely physical and racks up the PIMs, so depending on how much you value that sort of thing (I’m not sure I do, the PIMs at least; physicality has its advantages for sure, but it doesn’t instantly make for a good hockey player) but all in all he certainly doesn’t hurt the team and hopefully he can recover some of his scoring touch to be even more valuable.

MICHAEL FROLIK

 RW

63

 5

10

15

Bringing in Frolik (and touted goalie prospect Alex Salak) in exchange for NHL bust Jack Skille plus spare parts was a stroke of genius by GM Stan Bowman.  Whilst Frolik has seen his scoring drop significantly since coming into the league with the Florida Panthers in 08-09 – he had 21 goals in each of his first 2 seasons, but has just 16 total in the 2 seasons since – he has blossomed into a quality two-way winger.  He has been thrust into the hard-minutes role with Bolland, playing tough competition with less-than-favourable zonestarts and limiting the damage, thus allowing Chicago’s star players to do what they do best against slightly easier competition.  It would be handy for the Hawks if Frolik regained his offensive confidence, but it is unclear exactly what his offensive ceiling.  Scoring over 20 goals in each of your first 2 seasons points to a future star scorer, but in his first season he had an above-average 13.3% shooting percentage which has since plummeted to a well-below average 4.3%.  So which is he?  Well, no-one knows.  The first 2 years could have been a run of great luck, or the last 2 years could have been a run of incredibly poor luck.  It’s probably due in part to the role he’s been asked to play, and in particular with Chicago he is getting low minutes (12:52 per game) with hardly any powerplay time and over 1 minutes per game of PK time.  Basically he’s not really being put in a position to do much damage offensively, but on the other hand he has to work hard to show he’s worthy of more offensive minutes.  However, whether he’s scoring or not, Frolik has shown himself to be a valuable member of any team he’s on.

JIMMY HAYES

 RW

31

 5

4

9

Hayes spent most of the second half of the year up in the NHL in Chicago after being recalled from the Rockford Icehogs of the AHL – where he was having a pretty good year, his first in the pros – in December.  The behemoth (6’6″, 221lbs) performed pretty well in Chicago in a limited role – playing only 10:14 per game with a smidgeon of powerplay time.  Hockey’s Future describes him as thus:

Hayes has a bigbody, works hard and plays very well in a team concept. With his size, you expect Hayes to be a punishing power forward. While he’s not going to shy away from the tough stuff, he is really known for his hands and work around the net. He is a big, strong, forward who is learning to use his power as he continues to grow into his frame. He is also noted as [a] fast skater with very big and long strides.

That’s a pretty glowing report, but when matched up against his stats from previous years he’s never been a big scorer, although he did put away 21 goals in 39 games in his last year in the NCAA, which is impressive.  He wasn’t great by the Player Usage Charts, playing below average competition with a big o-zone start push, and posting a significantly negative shot differential, but he was a 22 year old playing his first half-season in the best league in the world, so I’ll cut him some slack there!  He’s got a good chance to make the team this year, so hopefully he can keep showing the improvement he’s been making the last several years and become a useful NHLer for a Chicago team that needs as many as possible to fill the holes created in the post-Cup cullings.

MARIAN HOSSA

 RW

81

 29

48

77

Marian Hossa is an absolutely tremendous hockey player.  I could leave it at that.  I probably shouldn’t be writing a blog though if I were to do that.  Whilst not the top notch goal scorer he was a few years back, when he would regularly flirt with the 40 goal mark – and exceed it on 3 occasions – he is still capable of putting away 20-30 per season, and his playmaking abilities don’t appear to have diminished at all.  All told, this was his most successful season points wise since he scored 100 with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07 – although a string of injuries the past few seasons have hampered his totals.  To lead a Chicago roster in scoring with the likes of young scoring stars Toews and Kane on it at the age of 33 is a hell of an achievement.  He stayed healthy this year though, or at least until the playoffs when a monstrously dirty Raffi Torres hit in the Hawks playoff series against the Coyotes hospitalised the star.  Hopefully he’ll make a full recovery, although I’m not hopeful that he’ll be completely ok – I haven’t seen the updates on his condition so can’t comment.  Back to his play though, and we can see that Hossa played above average competition with a big zone start push (nearly 60%) and was just about pushing the puck in the right direction, so there is room for improvement – this is the second straight year he hasn’t been dominating the competition, and I do wonder if age is starting to have an effect on his overall effectiveness and two-way play even though it’s clearly not yet effecting his finishing and passing skills.  That said, he is still a massive part of the team not just a scorer, playing big minutes in all situations including 1:47 per game on the PK.  He’ll be a big part of the team for years to come (of course he will with that contract – another 9 years at $5.275m cap hit per year) but one does have to question whether his latest injury and his age will impact his game.

PATRICK KANE

RW/C

82

 23

43

66

An interesting season for the hard-partying Patrick Kane.  66 points is still good 1st line production, but for Kane it was a clear drop-off from previous years and established a new career low for him in both points and points-per-game.  Before this season, his average points per game rate was 0.95, but this season he was around 0.8.  It is worth noting that his shooting percentage dropped a bit too – prior to 11-12, his career NHL shooting percentage was around 11.17%, but this year he only put away 9.1% of his shots.  It’s not a huge drop, but if he had shot at his previous average rate he would have got around 28 goals – thus pushing up his overall points to 71 and right into his usual territory of 70+ points, although still off the point-per-game rate he was scoring at for the two seasons previous to this one.    Kane wasn’t as dominant as he was last year in terms of shooting differentials either, although he was still most definitely pushing the puck in the right direction, as he should with extreme zone starts (over 65% in the offensive zone) – although being asked to play center for the first time in his career may not have helped the issue, with that being a somewhat more defensive minded role than playing wing.  He’s not a physical or defensive player in any way, shape or form; his job is to go out there and create offence, which he does with aplomb.  Some have labelled Kane a bit of a disappointment for a first overall draft pick as he hasn’t become a great goal scorer and hasn’t been a truly dominant, elite player.  To the first point, his résumé all through the junior ranks, midget etc., points to someone pretty equal parts goalscorer and playmaker. Whilst it would be nice to see Kane become a 40 goal scorer, I think the system that Chicago plays is more about team systems than focusing in on one guy to be the guy.  Kane has fitted well into that style of play, as he would have to be seen as a premier playmaker in the NHL averaging nearly 49 assists per season.  To the second point, I would counter that Kane has probably been one of the most consistent high-end offensive players in the league ever since he burst on to the scene in 07-08.  For a player with 5 years in the league to only have scored less than 70 points, which is star production in this era of relatively low-scoring games, is pretty amazing in my view.  Sure he’s not Crosby or Stamkos, he’s Kane.  He’s his own player, and he’s doing pretty damn fine as he is. I think scoring the goal that won Chicago their first Cup in over 40 years should earn him a bit of slack, at least.  I’m pretty certain that he’ll rebound to his previously establish PPG pace, if not better, and hit 30 goals.

MARCUS KRUGER

 C

71

 9

17

26

This was Kruger’s rookie season in the NHL, minus a 7 game cup of coffee with the Hawks in 10-11, and he performed well despite being thrown in at the deep end.  He took on above average competition and won the shot differential battle (just), whilst getting less than favourable zonestarts.  All that and he still managed to post a +11 rating and score 26 points whilst seeing time on both special teams.  Not bad for a 22 year old.  He’d already proven himself to be highly capable after 3 years playing in the SEL for Djurgadens IF, but it was somewhat surprising that he wasn’t placed in the AHL first to get him up to scratch with the North American style, yet he made the team – although I wonder how much that had to do with Chicago’s cap problems and need for cheap, young and productive players.  Still, it worked out for both parties and hopefully Kruger can continue his improvement and not suffer the dreaded “sophomore slump”.  I could see him as a potential 40 points player, although I think hitting 30 would be more reasonable for this season.

JAMAL MAYERS

 RW

81

 6

9

15

Scoring wise this year was not much different than usual for the gritty veteran, but at 37 Mayers clearly showed his age in 11-12.  He struggled mightily at 5v5 against bottom-of-the-heap competition, and only played minimal minutes, averaging 9:48 per game – although he did play 1:20 per game on the PK.  Unfortunately for Mayers I think the end of the road is not far off, as it’s no longer possible to describe him as a decent 4th liner.

PATRICK SHARP

LW/C

74

 33

36

69

For the last two seasons, Sharp has been pushing towards the point-per-game mark, having grown into a quality scoring player, who happens to be quite versatile.  He gets a massive zonestart push (nearly 65%) against middling competition, but he makes it count by absolutely dominating – he could probably take on more responsibility, but then he does play heavy minutes on both special teams aswell so maybe they are just balancing out his ice time.  I see no real reason for Sharp to not continue on being a 30-35 goal scorer and an integral part of the Hawks forward corps.

ANDREW SHAW

 RW

37

 12

11

23

Shaw was something of a surprise this year.  After only being drafted in 2011 as an overager, instead of being returned to junior he was eligible for the AHL and so was sent to Rockford, where he put up very solid numbers (12-11-23 in 38 games) and earned a recall to Chicago.  Amazingly, he scored at almost the exact same rate in the NHL as he did in the AHL, cementing himself pretty much in the top 6.  His situational play is quite odd, in that he didn’t get much defensive responsibility at all in the sense of play in the PK, but at 5v5 he was relied upon to play very difficult opposition with zonestarts nearly as low as 40%, which he actually handled very well for a 21 year old rookie pro.  It’s difficult to discern what kind of player Shaw is.  He was never a big scorer, not even as a 20 year old in junior, judging from his stats – he put up lots of penalty minutes – he was a physical agitator with some scoring ability.  Perhaps his ability is more suited to the pro game, with Hockey’s Future saying his hard-working, agitating style combined with his willingness to crash the net will give him plenty of opportunity to stick in the NHL.  It’s worth noting his shooting percentage is very high at 16.2%, so unless he’s a super-sniper – I sincerely doubt he is – I wouldn’t expect him to score at the same rate going forward.  His shooting percentage wasn’t even that good in the AHL.  That said, his underlying numbers are encouraging, so it seems like he could be a good complimentary player and maybe even capable of a top 6 role at some point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a step back next year.

VIKTOR STALBERG

 RW

 79

 22

21

43

The big Swede really turned it on this year, having already dominated the college ranks and shown well in the AHL, but struggling to find his role in the NHL.  His shooting percentage is “normal” at 10.2%, which bodes well for future success, and he dominated pretty tough competition with the aid of a big zonestart push (in the same area as Kane and Toews at around 65%).  He didn’t get many minutes, playing only 14:04 per game, and with little PP or PK time, so to put up 20 goals and 40 points is very impressive.  All things considered, it looks like Stalberg has finally found what he’s supposed to be in the NHL, and this should really help out with the secondary scoring in Chicago.

JONATHAN TOEWS

C

 59

 29

28

57

A hero in both Canada and Chicago, thanks to his MVP performances in both the Olympics and the Stanley Cup Playoffs 2 years ago, Toews is one of the most respected and revered players in the entire world.  This is despite the fact that he hasn’t put up mind-blowing numbers yet in his career, though he has improved each year to the point where he is almost a point-per-game guy and consistent 30 goal scorer.  In fact, he was on pace for 40 goals and 79 points this season.  Many were touting him as a possible league MVP prior to his injury (a concussion) at the end of February which forced him out of the last 22 games, though he returned for the playoffs.  The reason Toews is so respected is because of his all-round game, and is regarded as one of the best 2-way players in the league.  This is shown through his heavy minutes in all disciplines, and his dominance against very tough competition in shot differentials.  It should be noted that he receives a significant zonestart push, around 65%, which does help a lot, but at the end of the day he makes good with what he is given – but it would make me question the legitimacy of him being regarded as a Selke Trophy candidate for best defensive forward in the NHL.  If a player rarely has to start a shift in the defensive zone, it already gives him a great advantage over the likes of a player like Bolland – who should be a Selke candidate – who receives tough zonestarts against tougher opposition and still does well.  Don’t take me as a naysayer though, Toews is still an absolutely fantastic player, one of the best in the league in my opinion.

DEFENCE

Brent Seabrook NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Photo by Resolute (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

PLAYER

POSITION

2011-12 SEASON STATS

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

SHELDON BROOKBANK

 D

 80 3 11 14
A career year across the board for the 31 year old Brookbank, who spent last year with the Anaheim Ducks.  He was quite an important member of the Ducks’ rotation on the blueline, playing big minutes on the PK, and despite getting hardly any powerplay time he put up solid scoring numbers for a defensive d-man.  However, when you look deeper (i.e. the Vollman Charts), Brookbank played below-average competition and was significantly outshot, indicating he was not particularly effective defensively.  Combine that with his sudden offensive outburst – if you can call it that! – at the age of 31 – and it’s entirely reasonable to suggest this was and will be his career year.  I wouldn’t expect him to repeat his scoring from last year, and he should be nothing more than a depth option defensively.

NIKLAS HJALMARSSON

D

 69

1

14

15

Hjarlmarsson is a prototypical defensive defender, who will put up a few points but who’s real value lies in his abilities in his own end.  I was actually somewhat surprised that he didn’t spend more time starting in his own end (offensive zonestarts were over 50%), but remember that only counts faceoff zonestarts, not mid-play zonestarts.  Nonetheless he was playing tough competition, and for a defensive guy didn’t post too bad a number in terms of shot differentials.  It was negative, so he will have to improve it, but it wasn’t really bad.  Hjalmarsson plays very heavy minutes on the PK – 2:22 per game – which is where he really gets a chance to shine.  A quality player very much along the lines of a Ladislav Smid, he’s a good player – not irreplaceable, but good.

DUNCAN KEITH

D

 74

4

36

40

Contrary to popular opinion, I would still describe Keith as one of the league’s premier 2-way defenders.  He had an odd year, as he posted a negative shot differential, but take into account how many minutes per game he played (over 21 minutes per game at 5v5 alone, nearly 27 minutes per game total), and the fact he was facing some of the most difficult competition on the team and you can justify somewhat.  That said, for a player like Keith who has established such a high benchmark for himself, you would like to see him return to dominating his competition as he has done in years past.  He still managed to post a 40 point year, which I would describe as the benchmark figure for really good offensive defenders, and played mega-minutes at all disciplines.  He is integral to the Chicago defence, and even an average Keith is better than most other defenders!

NICK LEDDY

D

 82

3

34

37

An outstanding year for the 21 year old in his first full NHL season, Leddy has been as advertised since being acquired from the Minnesota Wild in 09-10 in exchange for the simply awful Cam Barker.  A very highly touted blueliner from the Minnesota high school programme and the NCAA, Leddy was great in all aspects of the game.  He posted a positive shot differential against above average competition, and played over 22 minutes across all disciplines, showing he was being heavily relied upon – and he answered the call.  There should be no reason to believe that Leddy won’t build on his great performance and become a legitimate top 4 NHL d-man, if not eventually a top 2.

STEVE MONTADOR

D

 52

5

9

14

Steve Montador is the epitome of a good 3rd pairing defender in the NHL – he plays limited minutes against soft competition and dominates by the shot differentials.  He played a surprising amount on the powerplay, and in a shortened season put up solid scoring numbers.  He is 32 and a veteran of 571 NHL games, so maybe he’ll slow down over the next few years, but at the moment he is still very capable when placed in a position to succeed.

JOHNNY ODUYA

D

 81

3

15

18

Oduya, a 30 year old veteran of nearly 500 NHL games, struggled with Winnipeg last season, but once he was traded to Chicago at the deadline his play picked up somewhat.  He’s not an offensive defender, more of a lower-end 2 way guy, and was brought in to shore up Chicago’s struggling top 4, and he did help somewhat.  He played heavily on the PK (2:08 per game) and overall played 20:27 per game.  At 5v5 he played above average competition and was outshot, though not significantly and that does include his time with the Jets in which he struggled – I wouldn’t be surprised if he posted better results once in Chicago.  A good NHL defender, I’d prefer to see him on the 3rd pairing than in the 2nd, but he is capable of playing there if needs be.

BRENT SEABROOK

D

 78

9

25

34

Chicago’s best defenceman in 11-12 bar none.  Seabrook has often flown under the radar, and is certainly underrated around the league, he is in my opinion one of the NHL’s top defenceman along with Duncan Keith.  He’s a good puckmover, not in the same league as Keith, but still very good, and is almost certainly better defensively than Keith having played tougher competition – the toughest on the team in fact – yet still posted a positive shot differential.  He is big at 6’3″ and 221lbs, physical with 198 hits, and played heavy minutes in all situations at 24:43 per game.  A wonderful player, whilst Chicago have both him and Keith patrolling the blueline they’ll be a formidable team.

GOAL

Corey Crawford NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Photo by Hockeybroad (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

PLAYER

POSITION

2011-12 SEASON STATS

GAMES PLAYED

W/L/OT

SV%

GAA

COREY CRAWFORD

 G

 57

30/17/7

.903

2.72

After a great rookie year where he was considered for the Calder Trophy, Crawford came crashing down to earth this year.  All too often a young goalie has come bursting out of the gates in his NHL career, stunning everyone and being declared “the goalie of the future”, only for them to stumble in their second year and never regain whatever it was that propelled them to stardom in the first place.  Andrew Raycroft, Steve Mason and Jim Carey are the most obvious examples, with the former two both winning the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, and Carey winning the Vezina in his first full year.  Carey was out of hockey altogether by the end of 1999, Raycroft never established himself as a starter in the league and is now in Italy, and Mason has been the defacto starter for Columbus but probably shouldn’t even be in the NHL at all he’s been that bad.  I don’t foresee Crawford turning into anything like as bad as Carey or Mason, but it’s entirely possible that he is a Raycroft-type – a capable backup.  On the other hand, it’s also entirely possible that this year was just a down year and he’ll rebound this season.  Trying to predict goaltenders is like alchemy, to paraphrase the boys at the Copper & Blue blog.  It’s impossible, especially ones without an established track record yet in the NHL.

RAY EMERY

G

 34

15/9/4

.900

2.81

Emery was OK as a backup for a Hawks team that badly needed better goaltending than it got.  Emery has had a turbulent career, but seems to have settled well into the journeyman back-up role that he’s had the last 3 years since a season spent in exile in the KHL in 08-09.  There was no harm in the Hawks bringing him back, but they’d better hope that Crawford is better this year – Emery is capable of getting hot for stretches, but I doubt he’d be able to carry the team on his back for a significant stretch if Crawford struggles.

PROSPECTS MOST LIKELY TO MAKE THE TEAM / EARN A CALL-UP

Brandon Saad NHL Chicago Blackhawks

Photo by Rich Borkowski (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Hawks boast an enviable collection of talent, many of whom have already tasted NHL action.  Whilst top prospect Teuvo Teravainen, who fell to them at the 2012 NHL draft, is probably not ready for primetime for another year or two, the cream of the rest of the crop is headlined by 2011 2nd rounder Brandon Saad.  Saad already got into a few games with the Hawks last season, although he was returned to junior only to be recalled once his season had ended.  It’s highly unusual for a second rounder to have made such a splash so soon after his draft, but Saad was highly touted before his draft but fell down the rankings after a lacklustre season in the OHL, but he was outstanding in training camp and much better this year in junior.  Hockey’s Future describes him as a power forward with big-time top 6 potential, but with consistency issues.  It is entirely reasonable to project that he breaks camp with the team, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see some stints in the AHL (he is eligible) across the year.  Very exciting prospect.

Beyond that, they also have both Jeremy Morin and Kyle Beach on the wing.  Beach is falling away as a prospect, having not become the dominant AHL scorer people expected, but he is an experienced pro and a potential call-up option.  Morin is younger and less experienced, but has posted solid numbers in the AHL whilst also seeing 12 NHL games, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist in 10-11.  An almost certainty for a call-up if the opportunity presents itself.  Jimmy Hayes is a tweener, I included him in the Chicago roster above.  Brandon Pirri, a 2009 2nd rounder, was very impressive in his second pro season in the AHL, and also impressed in 5 NHL games this year.

Finally, Dylan Olsen is the team’s headlining d-man prospect.  The team’s first rounder in 2009 has not posted very good numbers in his first couple of AHL seasons, and he struggled in a call-up to Chicago this year.  He’s more a defensive player than offensive, but he will need to develop more of an all-round game in the minors in order to be considered for full-time NHL employment.  Even a majority of the most defensive defenders in the NHL have shown some sort offensive ability at lower pro levels, but Olsen has not yet shown that ability, posting only 7 points in 44 AHL games and 1 lowly assist in 28 NHL games.

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