July 22, 2013 by Cups n Pucks
After the Blackhawks signed Marcus Kruger, the Hawks also resigned a few players and moved around several small pieces in an attempt to complete their puzzle.
Last season Kyle Beach put up 26 points and 28 PIMs over 66 games for the Rockford IceHogs. Most impressively he was a +5.
(For our newcomers: +5 is a good thing. We will be writing a post shortly that will clearly define what +/- is)
Beach’s attitude and defensive play were both put into question when he was drafted 11th overall in 2008, but those issues seem to be in his past. The question is whether he could crack into the Hawk’s deep line-up and continue to remain disciplined at the next level.
Ryan Stanton has been an impressive defensive-defenseman for Rockford. At this moment, he seems like he may be ready for the NHL. Unfortunately for him, Stanton will have a rough time breaking into the Hawk’s defensive lineup. Since the Hawks will be bringing back the same 7 defensemen that just won the Stanley Cup, the competition seems to be stiff. In the 2012-13’ season, Stanton racked up 25 points and a whopping 126 PIMs in 73 games.
After breaking his leg in his fourth year (2011-2012), Drew LeBlanc returned to St. Cloud State for a fifth year. He put up an impressive 50 points in 42 games leading St. Cloud State to their first Frozen Four appearance. LeBlanc also took home the ‘Hobey Baker Award’ for NCAA’s best player of the year. Although he had an impressive comeback, LeBlanc is up against Brandon Pirri for the opening center position (due to Dave Bolland’s departure).
Pirri was the AHL point leader last season which made him the youngest player to win the AHL scoring race since Jason Spezza in the 2004-2005 lockout season (Spezza had 111 games of NHL experience at the time).
Theo Peckham split time between the Edmonton Oilers and the Oklahoma City Barons last season. He had no points in four games for the Oilers and one assist in four games for the Barons. The 25-year-old has 17 points and 388 PIMs in 160 career NHL games. Expect Peckham to start with Rockford this season.
Mike Kostka split time between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies last season. In his first season (2013) he posted 8 assists in 35 games. He has 183 points in in 341 AHL games. Kostka will also start the season in the AHL.
Next season the Hawks will have a 2nd line center, 3rd and 4th line winger positions open. Personally, I see Pirri, Morin, and Smith taking those spots. However, if Beach comes into camp with a chip on his shoulder and plays like he has something to prove, he can take that spot from Smith.
As for D, don’t expect any changes to the Hawks lineup. If the Hawks management feels like one of the three signed players (Stanton, Peckham or Kostka) are NHL ready and a less expensive option, then Brookbank can be moved. Stanton would be my first pick to be the #7 defensemen if Brookbank is moved.
No matter who makes the team, you can expect to see most of these guys with the Hawks at one point during the season. With a full 82 game season, injuries are expected. The Hawks have a ridiculous level of depth and skilled prospects.