With the signings of Kyle Baun and Mike Paliotta on Thursday, the Blackhawks continue adding size to the organization. And looking ahead to potential summer moves, Chicago has some big things coming to Rockford – and the United Center.
On the blue line, where the Hawks haven’t had a great deal of size over the last couple years, the signing of Paliotta brings another big body into the organization. Paliotta (6-3, 207) and Stephen Johns (6-3, 225) could both play a role in the short-term future of the Blackhawks; each will burn the first year of their two-year entry-level contracts this season.
There is more size coming for the Hawks as well. Carl Dahlström, a second round pick (51st overall) in the 2013 draft, is currently playing in Sweden. He is listed at 6-4 and 223 pounds and could be another big defenseman in the mix soon. Dahlström is a solid passer who plays a smart game… and he’s only 20.
Up front, Baun joins a group of forwards that could also get bigger in the coming seasons.
Mark McNeill has 18 goals and 17 assists in 51 games in Rockford this season. Listed at 6-3 and 217 pounds, he will receive competition from Baun for a roster spot in Chicago next season.
John Hayden, 20, just completed his sophomore collegiate season. The 6-3, 217 center has impressed in prospect camp and could be a nice addition in the middle soon. Hayden has also performed very well on the international stage.
Chris Calnan, 20, also just finished his sophomore season at Boston College. Listed at 6-3 and 205 pounds, he could put on more size with another year (or two) at BC.
A player who has impressed locally this season is Fredrik Olofsson, who won’t turn 19 until the end of May. A fourth round pick in 2014, Olofsson has 52 points (25 goals, 27 assists) in 50 games with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. He is listed at 6-2 and 204 pounds and has shown a strong all-around game this season.
Matt Iacopelli, who turns 21 in mid-May, is listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds. A third round pick in 2014, he has 22 goals in 50 games with Muskegon of the USHL. He’s a good, natural scorer who finished in the top-20 in the USHL in goals.
Beau Starrett was also a third round pick in 2014, but is only 19 years old. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury derailed his 2014-15 season, but he plans on attending Cornell in the future. He is listed at 6-5 and 205 pounds, and finished the 2013-14 season second on the South Shore Kings (USPHL) with 47 points in 48 games.