The IceHogs only had two games on their slate for week 24 and they were back-to-back games north of the border in beautiful British Columbia.
For the second straight weekend, the IceHogs faced a three-games-in-three-nights situation. This time in week 23, they faced the Chicago Wolves twice and the Peoria Rivermen. With these big Midwest Division games, the Hogs needed to take, at the bare minimum, 4 out of the 6 points to be right on the cusp of making it into the playoffs; with 6 out of 6 points, they could be in the top 8.
Blackhawks prospect camp finished with a thriller of a scrimmage on Friday. The goals came early and fairly often in this one.
Thursday’s scrimmage at Blackhawks prospect camp featured some big prospect names that were absent from Wednesday’s game–and a skills competition.
Blackhawks prospect camp on Wednesday featured the first scrimmage of the week after Team A/the Red Team practiced for about an hour beforehand.
The Blackhawks have released a general preview for camp that looks at the numbers. It’s full of interesting and sometimes quirky facts, and it offers a great opportunity for me to open my own preview by looking at some numbers of my own. Out of the 27 forwards attending prospect camp, 14 are Free Agent Invitees–which means the remaining 13 are in the Blackhawks’ system. 14 of those 27 have been playing college hockey, 2 played in the USHL, 1 in the WHL, 2 in the OHL, 1 in high school, 1 in the QMJHL, and the remaining 6 come from European Leagues (1 SM-Liiga, 3 MHL, 1 SEL, 1 SUI-JR). Of the 6 Illinoisans attending camp, 4 of them are forwards. The forwards have one of the notable legacy attendees–right wing Chris Calnan, the Blackhawks’ 79th overall draft pick this year, who just happens to be Jeremy Roenick’s nephew.
Now let’s take a look at the forward attendees one-by-one:
Along with formally announcing the signings of Jamal Mayers, Mac Carruth, Joakim Nordstrom, Klas Dahlbeck, and Kent Simpson that occurred over the holiday weekend, the Blackhawks also announced the re-signing of defenseman Johnny Oduya for three years at $3.375 million/year, according to CSN Chicago. This is slightly less than his last contract, which had a cap hit of $3.5 million/year.
According to Stan Bowman, the signing was all about Oduya’s “fit” within the Blackhawks:
“We brought Johnny in to solidify things down the stretch, and I think he played a big role in the turnaround of our team. It was pretty evident that his style of hockey complemented our style, and it made our players better,” Bowman said. “I had a good meeting with Johnny at the end of the year and he made it clear that he wanted to be in Chicago. He could have gone anywhere; the fact that he wanted to be back and he helped us made it a simple decision for us.”
I know a lot of people are bothered by the price. The Blackhawks certainly overpaid… a little. But, honestly, when you look at other defensemen in the league that are in the same skill set at Oduya, they’re all making about the same amount (which means, yes, a lot of teams are overpaying for defense).
And please don’t give me the whole “Oduya cost us the Coyotes series,” because I went over that when the Blackhawks were bounced. By that line of logic, the Blackhawks should get rid of half the team. (If you really think the Blackhawks should get rid of half the team — wow, thanks for stumbling across my site, Steve Rosenbloom.)
The Blackhawks announced today that goaltender Kent Simpson signed a three year entry level contract with the club. They also made the signings of prospects Mac Carruth, Joakim Nordstrom, and Klas Dahlbeck official.
According to NHLwiki on Twitter, the Blackhawks signed yet another youngster to a three year entry level contract. This time, it was Swedish prospect Joakim Nordstrom.
- Johan Mattsson- I remember Mattsson from last year because there was another Mattson at prospect camp with just that small spelling difference, and we had to keep reminding ourselves that the one with one S was a defenseman and the one with two was a goaltender. That said, I remember that he had some really solid moments, but he was not consistent and his puck handling was sometimes sloppy, which led to a few painful goals. His time with the SÃ¶dertÃ¤lje SK of the J20 Superelit leagueÂ seems to have helped quite a bit judging from his stats, so I am definitely excited to see what he will do this year on the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL.
- Ludvig Rensfeldt- Rensfeldt made an impression the moment he got on the ice — a big winger and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. His shot was really powerful but not always accurate, but the fact that he actually does things like move the puck well in his own zone really make up for that. Consistency was kind of an issue but it usually is as players develop, so I think he’s got a lot of potential. I am especially looking forward to seeing some of his more creative plays, as he was fun to watch last year.
- Joakim Nordstrom- He is the one I know the least about because I haven’t really seen him play. He’s had some time with AIK of the Elitserien (SEL, or Swedish Elite League), as well as with Almtuna IS of HockeyAllsvenskan, getting a bit of ice time in the playoffs with the former. He was also named to the U18 squad last year. I know that he’s a fast skater and he’s good at handling the puck, but that’s pretty generic information — so you can find more stats and info for him here.
All three Blackhawks prospects will attend prospect camp this upcoming weekend, so I expect to have an update for you once I’ve seen them play this year.
If you look at the roster for the U20 team, you might also recognize the following names: Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson, Mike Zibanejad, Jonas Brodin, Oscar Klefbom, and Richard Rakell — all of who were drafted in the first round this year, with only Klefbom and Rakell out of the top ten. This was a spectacular draft year for Sweden that really strengthened its position as a hockey power, and these rosters can only benefit from the high-caliber players that the country is offering.
I’m already excited to see Tre Kronor in Worlds and World Juniors.Â (Speaking of which, if you missed it, theÂ WJCs schedule was released today!)
The Swedish Under20 team will go to Lake Placid to play against USA and Finland in August. The Under18 team will play in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.