Greetings Blackhawks fans. Today I want to talk a bit about three current Rockford IceHogs down on the farm who I believe are ready now to play at the Big Red Barn (AKA United Center). Please note these ‘Hogs do not include Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Teuvo Teravainen, David Runblad or Kyle Cumiskey as they saw significant playing time with the Blackhawks in 2014-2015.
This Right Winger is under contract through 2017-2018. He made quite an impact in his first game with the Blackhawks and ended up playing 5 games overall for the ‘Hawks in 2014-2015. He brings grit and tenacity that will make him a great third or fourth line addition. Hartman tallied 15 goals, 25 assists and 128 penalty minutes in 77 games (including 8 playoff games) with the IceHogs last season. He brings his lunch bucket to work every day, and Coach Q likes that kind of energy. The key for him will be to choose his spots wisely before stirring things up in the pen. Despite a log jam of talented forwards even after the trade of forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom to Carolina, I believe Hartman can still make the club out of camp.
D-Man Pokka came to Rockford last year in the Blackhawks trade that sent Nick Leddy to the Islanders. He is currently signed through the 2016-2017 season and has quickly become a fan favorite in Rockford (“Pokka Party”!!). Pokka plays with a lot of poise, is experienced on the power play and can log plenty of minutes. Basically he can play in any situation and has the hockey sense Coach Q loves. That is crucial as even though Duncan Keith is clearly a Cyborg, he could use some more rest.
A defenseman measuring in at 6’9″ and 234 pounds, Svedberg is one large Hog (trust me I have met him)! He is 24 years old and brings something currently lacking to the Blackhawks – an enforcer. In 49 games played last year, he tallied 41 penalty minutes, 11 assists and 3 goals. Any offensive production is a bonus. What stands out to me in watching him play is he doesn’t seem to take reckless, stupid penalties. The Blackhawks absolutely need someone to protect all of their skilled players as well as remind Anaheim and St. Louis that we can play physically too.
Blackhawks training camp is set to open September 18, 2015; with their first pre-season game September 22nd in the Barn versus Detroit. I will be there watching our Three Little Piggies and will report back on their progress as warranted. In the mean time, I invite you to share with me which players you think will be difference makers this year from down on the farm.
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength