Even though the Blackhawks season is over, it's been a hectic time with the exciting news from the Draft Lottery and some great daily playoff hockey.
It's time to take a step back and look at a few items I have yet to cover. Let's get into it:
It was a disappointing finish for a team that struggled for consistency all season. They finished with 80 points which weren't good enough to make it into the playoffs.
The IceHogs were a great team defensively led by Forsberg, Delia and Lankinen in net. However, this team could not score for the life of them.
The ‘Hogs only gave up 214 goals (good for 10th in the league) but were dead last in hitting the back of the twine with just 184. They will need to address that moving into the offseason.
Mark Bernard, Rockford's GM will hope to have a healthier team this year but that won't be enough, he will have to add some veteran scoring to his team.
He will also have to look at how the Hawks played system-wise. I heard for a good portion of the year the Derek King wasn't the guy long-term. King is more of a player's coach than anything as he jokes around with his players and is a solid communicator. However, we saw with the Jeremy Colliton hire that the Hawks were serious about investing in this position, as it's vital to the future in Chicago.
Will Bowman and Bernard find a new head coach and shift King back over to associate coach? My thinking is yes as that's where he appears to be better slated.
Regardless of who's coaching next year, this Rockford team will have a different look. Here's a quick glance at who's back and who may be arriving:
Assumptions: I assumed the following RFAs are signed: Ejdsell, Louis, Soderlund, Hillman
I'm also assuming Boqvist stays in London or is with the Hawks.
This by no means is the lineup (or lines) just wanted to paint a picture of who's returning / who could possibly join the team. There will definitely be 2-3 veterans who will join the team or be resigned (ie. Schroeder, Andrew Campbell, Martinsen, etc.). There are also AHL-deal players that would fill in the gaps as well.
The goaltending situation is a fluid one as well. I talked about it last week – does Forsberg get resigned? Or do they leave room for Delia to come back if a veteran is signed in Chicago on a 1-way?
Finally, here are the awards in Rockford for the 2018-19 season:
Most Valuable Player: Jacob Nilsson
Rookie of the Year: Dylan Sikura
Defenseman of the Year: Lucas Carlsson
Unsung Hero: William Pelletier and Tyler Sikura
Heavy Hitter Award: Andreas Martinsen
Most Improved Player: Dennis Gilbert
Man of the Year: William Pelletier
The MVP, Jacob Nilsson was resigned for a 1-year / 700k deal recently and will be back into the fold next year. Good news for the IceHogs. He also may get some time in Chicago considering the past relationship he and Coach Colliton have from Sweden.
– woah… what a start to the post-season; I guess anything can happen in the playoffs… who knew?
What's been the most surprising series to you? What's been the most entertaining to watch?
– all the details can be found here (https://www.iihf.com/en/events/2019/wm). The tournament starts April 29th – May 5th. Who's there for the Hawks?
USA – Kane and DeBrincat
FIN - Henri Jokiharju and Kevin Lankinen
SWE – Gustafsson and Kruger
– Mitchell has decided to head back to the University of Denver for another year. It sounds like this will be his last year and he is expected to sign in Chicago this spring. It isn't a shock, but it sure did sound like he was turning pro for the 2018-19 season. I am good with him staying in Denver if he feels he isn't ready. It's a great program and as Mitchell said himself when he turns pro, he wants to make an impact (ie. "I wanna play in the NHL right after I sign"). There will be a clearer path for him after this year in Chicago. Right now, it's a little cluttered.
Entwistle moves on and Boqvist is done
– Guelph came back for an unbelievable win in their season vs. London. Entwistle takes down Boqvist and moves on to play Saginaw. The Spirit are up 2-0 on Guelph right now though so Mackenzie and mates have a hill to climb.
Draft watch: Cole Caufield
– he is not going to be drafted by the Blackhawks in the #3 spot but it's worth noting how Caufield's stock is rising with his Godly performance at the U18s. He has 9 goals in 3 games – all this kid does is score. He's being compared to Alex DeBrincat due to his size and scoring prowess. Here is Caufield in a snapshot (courtesy of EP):
That's all I have for now.
See ya out there.