Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 Blackhawks Prospect Camp Review

From July 7th to the 11th, the Blackhawks held their annual Prospect Camp at Johnny's Ice House West. They focused more on player development this year, resulting in more practices and only two days of scrimmaging. Here are some of the prospects that stood out.

The 20 year old Olsen was one of the better defensemen at camp. In all honesty though, he should have been, considering he played in 42 games in Rockford in 2011. Olsen's skating looked like it improved since the last IceHogs game in April. He seems smoother and more confident. Olsen, the Hawks' 1st round (28th overall) pick in the 2009 draft, looked a bit leaner but looked a little bit taller than he did in April. He was solid all camp and his passing looked like it improved a bit, even though it looked good in Rockford. Olsen dropped the gloves with Andrew Shaw in Monday's scrimmage, which was a first for him. He'll have more time to develop in Rockford next year, but he'll be a good defenseman on the Hawks' blue line in the future.

For his first prospect camp, Saad looked great. On the heels of being drafted 43rd overall in this year's draft, the 18 year old left winger showed he has good hockey sense. He was very sound positionally all camp. He has good hands and a good shot. He was always trying to be the first one to the puck. He's very solid on his skates and he didn't get knocked around much. He even threw the body around a bit. During the scrimmages, Saad was on a line with Mark McNeill and they played great together. It looked like they had been playing together for awhile, but they never had before until camp. The instant chemistry between the two is a good thing for the Hawks' future because that could make up part of a very good line for the Hawks down the road. As of right now, Saad is going to go back and play in the OHL for the Saginaw Spirit next year, and there's no need for the Hawks to rush him.

It was hard to not notice Hayes out on the ice. Not only is he 6'5", 235 pounds, but his play was very good. For such a big man, he's an excellent skater. He has a good shot and he also can throw the body around a bit. A great piece of his game is his ability to go to the front of the net and stay there. The Hawks definitely need a guy like that in the system. Hayes will be in Rockford for his first full year pro after spending three years at Boston College. He'll only improve and should be a very good player for the Hawks one day.  

A lot of eyes were on the Hawks' first round (18th overall) pick in this year's entry draft at camp. McNeill showed that he is a very smooth skater and when he skates, he's very good about keeping his head up. He's pretty good about finding open ice and open players to pass to because of that. His on-ice positioning is also great. His overall hockey sense seems to be very good. He'll have more time to develop in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders next season, and once again, there should not be any reason for the Hawks to rush him.  

Just like his older brother, Kevin also had a good camp. He played on a line with Jimmy and they showed natural chemistry together, which wasn't a shock. Kevin has a great set of hands and is a good skater. He needs to keep his head up a bit more though. The 19 year old was able to set up many plays and is good at leading rushes into the offensive zone. He'll be back at Boston College next year for his sophomore year.  

The Hawks' second 1st round (26th overall) pick in this year's draft wasn't the flashiest player at camp, but was one of the most solid and consistent players. Danault's work ethic really seemed to shine during battle drills and scrimmages when it was easy to tell the other guy wasn't about to out-hustle him. He was great in all three zones and has good on-ice positioning.

Clendening was also a part of this year's draft class, going in the 2nd round (36th overall) to the Hawks. He looked great at camp. Patrolling the blue line, it seemed like nothing rattled him. He looked calm, cool, and collected back there. He also came across as a good communicator out on the ice. His positioning was also very good. His passing looked crisp as well. He'll be back at Boston University for his sophomore year next season. 

As one of the bigger defensemen at camp, the 6'4", 221 pound Johns stood out on the ice. The 19 year old is a physical force out there. He looked good defensively, although he did get turned around a time or two as a rush came back at him, but he was usually able to recover nicely and keep the forechecker to the outside. He made some smart pinches in the scrimmage on Saturday, especially the one where he got to a loose puck in the slot and scored to give the Red Team a 6-5 lead in the 3rd period. Johns was only at camp for three days because he's taking summer classes at Notre

The free agent invitee really turned some heads at camp. Moses was one of the most consistent players on the ice and one of the most fun ones to watch. He's small, only 5'9", 170 pounds, but the forward is very fast. He was one of the fastest guys there. He's fearless, too. He wasn't afraid to go dig for pucks in the corners and along the boards and he even went to the front of the net, where he scored a goal in Monday's scrimmage from there. He seemed to be good at avoiding checks and even if he did get hit, he bounced right back up and kept on going. He's also a pretty good stickhandler. It would be great to see him get a chance in Rockford to see what he could do against the pros.

Flick definitely wasn't the flashiest guy, but he did all the right things. He looked good at center, he showed great speed, and has a great shot. He also never missed an opportunity to finish a check, which is a good mindset to have, especially at age 20. He could still go back to Mississauga of the OHL next year, as he still has a year of junior eligibility left, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him in Rockford. 

Shaw was probably the player who stood out the most at camp. He seemed to be in the middle of everything. He's an agitator with offensive flare; he was the leading scorer at the Memorial Cup this year. Shaw scored twice in the scrimmage on Saturday and he had a goal get washed out on Monday due to a high stick earlier in the play. He's a very physical player. He has good speed and a great shot. Like Flick, he could still go back to the OHL, but with Owen Sound, but it also wouldn't be a surprise to see him with Rockford.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 5 of 2011 Blackhawks Prospect Camp

The Blackhawks prospects scrimmaged in their fifth and final day of Prospect Camp on Monday. Here's another unofficial boxscore-like review of the game.

The Red Team's Lines
Jimmy Hayes - Kevin Hayes - David Gilbert
Byron Froese - Phillip Danault - Ludvig Rensfeldt
Mirko Hoefflin - Andrew Shaw - Eriah Hayes
Tim Schaller - Jeremy Welsh - Luke Sandler 

Matt Petgrave - Joe Lavin
Paul Phillips - Joe Gleason
Sam Jardine - Klas Dahlbeck
Ben Youds -  ___________

They played with seven defensemen so the pairings weren't together the whole game like how they're listed . They played with 7 D because Stephen Johns left camp early to attend summer classes at Notre Dame.

Johan Mattsson started the game in net for the Red Team. Michael Clemente came in for the second period and Mac Carruth was between the pipes in the third period.

The White Team's Lines
Brandon Saad - Mark McNeill - Philippe Paradis
Terry Broadhurst - Rob Flick - Stevie Moses
Alex Broadhurst - Joakim Nordstrom - Drew LeBlanc
Paul Zanette - Jack Maclellan - _________
Daniel Delisle was out of the line up for the White Team so they played a forward short. Paradis and Moses were just some of the guys that were double-shifted.

Dylan Olsen - Adam Clendening
Nick Mattson - Michael Paliotta
Shayne Taker - Justin Holl
Mat Bodie - ___________

The White Team also played with seven defensemen. Mark Nemec didn't dress because of the injury he sustained in the first scrimmage after a hit by Shaw. These D pairings weren't together the whole game either.
Kent Simpson started in net. Scott Greenham was between the pipes in the second period and Cal Heeter came in to play in the third period.

1st Period
*The times are, once again, how much time is left in the period.
16:38 - Saad puts one in the back of the net on a breakaway, giving the White Team a 1-0 lead.

10:58 - Rensfeldt is called for slashing, giving the White Team the first power play of the game.

10:35 - PPG - Paradis, from in tight, backhands a shot top shelf. 2-0 White.

9:02 - Shaw gets the loose puck out in front and puts it home, except moments before he did, the puck was knocked down with a high stick. No goal.

2nd Period
*The teams played 4-on-4 hockey for the first five minutes of the period.

19:22 - Jimmy Hayes misses the net, blocker side, on a breakaway.

16:11 - Olsen is called for slashing, giving the Red Team a power play.

14:38 - Petgrave is called for high sticking Nordstrom. White Team power play.

12:18 - Olsen gets his second penalty of the game. Another Red Team power play.

3rd Period
*They played 4-on-4 for the first five minutes of the period again.

18:27 - Petgrave's shot from the right circle finds its way in, getting the Red Team on the board. 2-1 White.

16:47 - Clendening flattens Jardine below the goal line. It was a nice hit.

16:33 - Shaw heads to the box for slashing. White Team power play.

14:37 - Moses goes to the front of the net and beautifully tips in a shot. 3-1 White.

8:11 - Zanette goes on a breakaway, but hits the right post.

6:57 - Olsen and Shaw drop the gloves in the left circle of the White Team's zone. Olsen was cut above the right eye and went off for repairs. He got three stitches. 

48.3 - After pulling their goalie, the Red Team calls a timeout. 

00.0 - Nordstrom gets an empty net goal, but time ran out and it didn't count.

Final Score: 3-1 White Team

The White Team celebrating right after the game ended.

The handshake line

The White Team celebrating with the nice trophy they won.

The team photo

•McNeill and Saad have good chemistry together. They played together on a line and were out there together during 4-on-4 play.
•Moses is great at stickhandling, along with all the other things about his game that make him fun to watch.
Flick doesn't seem to miss an opportunity to finish his checks.
•Clendening seems to be a good communicator out on the ice.
•McNeill is a very smooth skater.
•The line of Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes, and Gilbert is fun to watch. They seemed to have instant chemistry. Jimmy and Gilbert could possibly end up on a line together in Rockford this season and hopefully some of the chemistry carries over.
•Froese was really good defensively today.

Kevin Hayes and Clendening during warmups.

Danault and McNeill, the two first round draft picks of the Hawks this year.

Lavin [in front], Paradis [in the middle] and Clemente during play.

Shaw scrumming after a whistle.

Shaw and Olsen fighting during the third period.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 3 of 2011 Blackhawks Prospect Camp

It was the first day the Blackhawks prospects scrimmaged at this year's Prospect Camp. Here's an unofficial boxscore-like review from today.

Team A's Lines (a.k.a. the Red Team)
David Gilbert - Kevin Hayes - Jimmy Hayes
Ludvig Rensfeldt - Phillip Danault - Andrew Shaw
Eriah Hayes - Byron Froese - Mirko Hoefflin 
Tim Schaller - Jeremy Welsh - Luke Sandler

Joe Lavin - Stephen Johns
Klas Dahlbeck - Sam Jardine
Paul Phillips - Joe Gleason
Matt Petgrave - Ben Youds 

The starting goalie was Mac Carruth. Johan Mattsson was put in between the pipes in the second period and Michael Clemente was in net for the third period and overtime.

Team B's Lines (a.k.a. the White Team)

Brandon Saad - Mark McNeill - Joakim Nordstrom 
Stevie Moses - Rob Flick - Philippe Paradis
Terry Broadhurst - Alex Broadhurst - Paul Zanette
Jack Maclellan - Drew LeBlanc - Daniel Delisle 

Dylan Olsen - Adam Clendening
Michael Paliotta - Nick Mattson
Justin Holl - Shayne Taker
Mat Bodie - Mark Nemec

Kent Simpson started in net. Cal Heeter came in to play in the second period and Scott Greenham played in the third period and overtime.

1st Period
*The times listed are how much time is left in the period, unlike normal boxscores.

10:31 - Shaw hit Nemec below the goal line and Nemec was out cold. His helmet popped off and he laid on the ice for a couple of minutes. He eventually got up and was helped off the ice. He looked very groggy and there has been no word on his condition so far.

9:43 - Eriah Hayes scores the first goal of the scrimmage from the right circle, beating Simpson glove side. 1-0 Red.

8:02 - Jimmy Hayes scores from the left circle with a wicked shot. 2-0 Red.

7:19 - Moses gets called for hooking. Team A with the first power play of the scrimmage.

:53 - Welsh is called for cross checking, giving Team B a power play late in the first.

2nd Period
*The teams played 4-on-4 hockey after the power play ended, which was a 4-on-3, for the first five minutes of the period.

15:06 - Danault was called for high sticking, giving the White Team a power play.

13:11 - Terry Broadhurst scores a very pretty goal, cutting the White Team's deficit in half. 2-1 Red.

10:45 - Paradis knocks in a Moses rebound past Heeter's right pad, making the score 2-2.

9:05 - Shaw finds the loose puck in traffic and scores. There was some pushing and shoving with Clendening afterwards. Nonetheless, it's 3-2 Red.

4:53 - Shaw gets his second of the day by flipping a shot over Heeter's left shoulder after having a mini give-n-go with Danault. 4-2 Red.

2:40 - Petgrave flattens Nordstrom in the Red Team's zone, just above the right circle. It was a good, clean hit.

3rd Period
*The teams also played the first five minutes of this period 4-on-4.

19:35 - Saad picks Johns' pocket in the slot of Team A's zone, makes some nice moves, and goes lower blocker side and in to get Team B within one. 4-3 Red.

17:29 - Maclellan provides traffic out in front and bangs home an Olsen rebound to tie the game up at 4.

13:47 - McNeill drives hard to the net, gets a Moses rebound and scores to give the White Team their first lead of the day, making it 5-4.

9:36 - Dahlbeck's shot from the top of the right circle goes in after a pass from Schaller. Tied at 5.

7:43 - Hoefflin gets a penalty, giving the White Team a power play.

4:50 - Shaw sends Paliotta down with a nice open ice hit.

3:20 - With a whole mess of traffic in front of Greenham, Johns pinches into the slot, gets the puck, and his shot finds its way into the back of the net. 6-5 Red.
2:05 - Late in the period, Shaw gets called for slashing, giving the White Team a power play and a chance to tie the game up.

1:15 - PPG - Again through a whole mess of traffic, the White Team finds a way to put the puck in the back of the net. It looked like Clendening's shot from the top of the left circle was tipped a couple of times. The goal could've gone to Nordstrom or McNeill, among others. Tied at 6-6.

*Overtime was 4-on-4 for five minutes.

Both teams had good chances to win the game, but neither could put the puck in the back of the net. The game ended in a 6-6 tie and a handshake line.

Today was the best day to see what each player can do. Among other things, Shaw really stood out today. He's a gritty guy and likes to stir the pot. He was hitting everything in sight today. 
Flick showed that he has some great speed and he's not one to shy away from physical play. He was also hitting a lot. When he shoots the puck, he has a quick release, making his shot deadly.
Clendening proved to be very poised with the puck and in all aspects of the game. He's very sound positionally and doesn't seem to get rattled by too much. 
Holl seems to have great vision on the ice and gets most of his shots from the point to the net. 
Jimmy Hayes is just a mountain of a man and he's an excellent skater. He had his physical moments and he's great at driving to the net. His size allows him to be able to not be moved easily.
Saad wasn't flashy, but he's a very sound player. He made a couple of good defensive plays in the neutral zone with an active stick. He's also good positionally. He picked up his play a lot in the third period.
McNeill, like Saad, was kind of quiet for most of the day, but was really good in the third period. He was solid all day though. He's good about skating with his head up, looking for open ice and guys to pass to. His on-ice positioning is excellent.
Moses is probably one, if not the, fastest skater at camp. The guy can fly like the wind. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he seems to be pretty good at avoiding checks. He's not a bad puck handler, either.
Terry Broadhurst looked pretty sound defensively all game. He's got some pretty good wheels on him as well.

The Red Team celebrating after Shaw's first goal.

Team B celebrating one of their goals.

McNeill and Gilbert at the dot.

Team A celebrating after Johns' goal.

The White Team celebrating their last goal of the scrimmage.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IceHogs Year in Review: Rob Klinkhammer

                      Position: Left Wing               Shoots: Left
                      Height: 6'3"                         Birthday: August 12, 1986
                      Weight: 210                        Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta

2010-11 Stats
GP   G   A   PTS   +/-   PIM   PPG   SHG   SOG   S%
76   17  29   46    +14     63      0       1      204    8.3

Rob Klinkhammer was an extremely versatile player for the IceHogs this season. He was mainly used as a top six forward for the club, had limited power play time on the second unit, and was one of the top penalty killers. He was very effective as a PKer. He'd use his ability to block shots and his active stick to get the puck out of the zone and, more often than not, get a shorthanded breakaway out of the deal. He'd even get breakaways at even strength due to his defensive zone play. Three times he drew a penalty shot, but he never converted on them. On a lot of his other breakaways, he also didn't convert as often as he should have. Late in the year, he started to convert on more of them.

Klinkhammer's a character guy in the dressing room and on the ice. He gives 100% effort every shift. He finishes his checks, uses his size to his advantage, and is a fast skater. He led the Hogs in +/- ratings with a +14. His 17 goals, 29 assists, and 46 points were all career highs for him. He was also third in team scoring.

This season was his fourth in the pros and on December 8th he was called up by the Blackhawks and he made his NHL debut at the United Center against the Dallas Stars. He was also recalled by the Hawks on April 14th to be a part of the Black Aces for the playoffs.

Klinkhammer's contract is up this summer. He's a restricted free agent and the Hawks did send him a qualifying offer. He'll be back in a Hogs sweater next year if he doesn't make the big club.

Teammates Brain Connelly and Chris DiDomenico celebrate with Klinkhammer after he scored a goal on October 23rd against the Chicago Wolves.

Klinkhammer after he was announced as 2nd star of the game on October 23rd.

Monday, June 27, 2011

IceHogs Year in Review: Alec Richards

                    Position: Goalie                   Catches: Left
                    Height: 6'4"                        Birthday: June 29, 1987
                    Weight: 200                       Hometown: Robbinsdale, Minnesota

2010-11 Stats
GP   W   L   SOL   SO   GA   GAA   SVS   SV%   A   PIM
44   17   21   1       2    114   2.89  1017   .899    1     0

Alec Richards came into the 2010-11 season with the IceHogs as the No. 2 goaltender. Early in the season, he made quite a few relief appearances for Hannu Toivonen. Richards looked like he was turning into the No. 1 goalie for awhile. He got a lot of starts toward the end of January and into February, but the team was in quite the slump then and he didn't always get the help in front of him that he should have. Toivonen took most of the starts down the stretch, consequently.

Richards' 17-21-1 record is kind of deceiving. It seemed like he was at least at a .500 record because he never seemed to be too far off of his game. For his first full year in Rockford, he did a pretty good job. He was rewarded by being recalled by the Blackhawks on April 14th to be a part of the Black Aces for the playoffs.

Richards' contract is up this summer, and the Hogs still don't have a goalie under contract. They can still re-sign him if they want to, and it wouldn't hurt at all if they brought him back.

Richards in net on January 22nd against the San Antonio Rampage on Pink in the Rink night at the MetroCentre.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

IceHogs Year in Review: Ivan Vishnevskiy

                      Position: Defenseman            Shoots: Left
                      Height: 6'0"                         Birthday: February 18, 1988
                      Weight: 200                        Hometown: Barnaul, Russia

2010-11 Stats
GP   G   A   PTS   +/-   PIM   PPG   SHG   SOG   S% 
46    5   10   15      0      26      2        0      81     6.2    

2010-11 was Ivan Vishnevskiy's first season in the Chicago Blackhawks organization after being acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Andrew Ladd. He was with the IceHogs all year long, but he was limited to 46 games, mostly due to multiple injuries.

When he was healthy, there were some nights where Vishnevskiy looked like he should be in the NHL. On the flip side, there were also nights where he looked like he was just right for the AHL. The inconsistency wasn't a great thing, but overall, he was serviceable for the Hogs. He was used on the power play a lot and was good at getting his shots from the point through to the net. Vishnevskiy is also a pretty good skater. He's not the fastest guy, but he's solid on his skates.

Vishnevskiy will not be back on the blueline for the Hogs next year. He signed a contract with Mytishchi Moscow of the KHL on May 17th.

Vishnevskiy in a game at the MetroCentre. (chicagoblackhawks.com)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

IceHogs Year in Review: Hannu Toivonen

                    Position: Goalie                    Catches: Left
                    Height: 6'2"                         Birthday: May 18, 1984
                    Weight: 205                        Hometown: Hattula, Finland

2010-11 Stats
GP   W   L   SOL   SO   GA   GAA   SVS   SV%   A   PIM
49   21  16    4       3    119   2.90  1159   .907    1    10

2010-11 was a tale of two seasons for Hannu Toivonen. The first half was kind of rocky for the first round (29th overall) pick of the Boston Bruins in 2002. He had some good performances, including a shutout on November 18th against the Manitoba Moose, but he let in many goals he'd probably like to have had back. For awhile, Alec Richards was turning into the go-to-guy.
Toivonen started redeeming himself towards the last couple of months of the season. He was solid in net and was able to make the saves it seemed like he wasn't able to before. He posted two shutouts after the first of January. He also ended up being the IceHog with the most number one star selections with 11. The Blackhawks called him up on April 11th to be a part of the Black Aces for the playoffs.

Toivonen's contract is up this summer. Currently, there are no goalies under contract for the Hogs. They could choose to bring him back, or they could let him walk in favor of either another veteran netminder or they could possibly go with a younger one. 

Toivonen in net on October 23rd against the Chicago Wolves.