Thursday, April 23, 2009

Forget someone?

Dear Mike Peck:

Did you forget Jake Dowell? He was IN the playoffs last season too! (see highlighted below)

From Dowell's player bio:
2007-08 Season Notes
-Scored his first career playoff goal on 4/25/08 at Houston in Rockford’s 5-2 win


Next Year’s Roster Could Look A Little Different
(Note the following is mostly opinion only!)

So the 10th Anniversary season is over and I would consider it a success. The organization set an all-time attendance record in 2008-09 and had seven sellouts. And on the ice another playoff berth for the team capped a fifth straight 40-win season.

The IceHogs organization did not win 40 games in any of the first five seasons in the United Hockey League.

You might ask why I would consider this season a success despite getting swept out of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs?

If you compare Rockford’s roster from the 2007-08 season to the 2009 Calder Cup Playoff roster, you would note that all five of Rockford’s top regular season point producers and nine out of the top on the Hogs point chart from ’07-08 did not skate a game in last week’s playoff series with Milwaukee.

Last season’s team was special and it is next to impossible to replace the type of fire power that was lost due to recall, trade or free agency. By the way, Bryan Bickell, who ranked sixth of the club in scoring in ’07-08, was the only player from last season’s team to skate in this year’s playoffs.

So looking forward now to the 2009-10 season, the IceHogs roster will more than likely receive another make over.

Let’s start between the pipes. I find it hard to believe that either goaltender will be back in Rockford next season. Hopefully both Corey Crawford and Antti Niemi will be in NHL uniforms next season. They both need contracts and looking at the Blackhawks goalie situation, I would doubt that they would both sign with Chicago. Goaltending clearly was Rockford’s strength this year, so it will be interesting come October to see who is on the roster once camps breaks in October.

Alec Richards (Yale) and Joe Fallon are both under contract for next season while prospect Joe Palmer could also be a candidate to block pucks in Rockford next fall.

On the defense, Jordan Hendry will skate under his second and final season of his contract which will be a one-way with Chicago. That doesn’t mean Hendry won’t be in Rockford, but with a one-way deal one would think that Chicago will try find a spot for him with the big club so they don’t have to pay him NHL money while playing in the AHL.

Andrew Archer, Danny Groulx, Jimmy Sharrow, Logan Stephenson and Tim Hambly all have expiring contracts. Sharrow and Stephenson will be restricted free agents this summer while Hambly will be an unrestricted free agent.

Mike Brennan and J.C. Sawyer are under contract for the ’09-10 campaign, while Brian Connelly has a deal that carries him through the 2010-11 season. Joe Charlebois does not have a contract for next season, but I could see him getting a deal done to return.

So it appears the candidates to return on the blue-line include Brennan, Sawyer, Connelly and Charlebois and possibly Hendry. I’d love to see Hambly get a contract as he was very solid this season. As for the prospects, Simon Danis-Pepin (U. of Maine) and Jonathan Carlsson (Sweden) are possibilities as well.

At forward, Tim Brent and Pascal Pelletier are unrestricted free agents. So there is a good possibility that the IceHogs top point producers could sign elsewhere. Adam Berti, Bryan Bickell and Adam Pineault are restricted free agents.

Akim Aliu, Dan Bertram, Evan Brophey, Nathan Davis, Jake Dowell, Rob Klinkhammer, Adam Hobson and Jack Skille are all under contract for next season. Dowell and Skille made great strides this season and both could find there way into the Hawks line up next fall.

Looking at returnees for the IceHogs next season, it is likely the roster could look like the following:
Forwards: Aliu, Bertram, Brophey, Davis, Klinkhammer and Hobson
Defense: Brennan, Sawyer, Connelly and Charlebois
Goalies: Fallon or Richards or Palmer

I would expect Chicago to sign an experienced goalie if BOTH Crawford and Niemi aren’t retained, and have one of the before-mentioned rookie tenders serve as the #2 in Rockford next season. Depending on what happens with Brent and Pelletier and in Chicago with Dowell and Skille, there will be plenty of spots open up front in Rockford for other free agents and prospects.

Some prospects at forward to keep an eye on for next season that could be in Rockford include Chris Auger (UMass-Lowell) Richard Greenop (Bellevile-OHL), Igor Makarov (Russia) and Maxime Tanguay (Victoriaville- QMJHL)

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