Blackhawks Organization Getting Bigger

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.

Stephen Johns

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.

30 thoughts on “Blackhawks Organization Getting Bigger

  1. I know most of these guys are 1-3 years away from regular NHL duty. But, chances are Q will find 1 or 2 guys he likes and they get their shot sooner than expected….ala TvR.
    The big positive here is that the organization is addressing major issues, the Cap, size and speed.

  2. Olofsson is going to be a good one… legit size, and impressed me with his skating at prospect camp…

    mcneill is closer to 6’0 than 6’3″… but he does have some girth for height.

    Hayden- has had great camps for Hawks… but underwhelms at yale???

  3. re: Mike “most of these guys are 1-3 years away from regular NHL duty” – the key is that they’re staggered, and there are a handful of them. In 2010, when the Hawks had to burn it down, they had no options internally; we were all excited about Shawn Lalonde and Jack Skille and Kyle Beach (smh…). Now, the Hawks have some bona fide skill and size coming and they’ll have options to fill in the roster every 2-4 years. We are now starting to (finally) see the impact of Bowman drafting a mix of CHL, NCAA & European players.

  4. Really not that surprised to see middle of the road stats for Hayden at Yale this year. That team is the best defensive team in college hockey, I think they’ve given up just over 50 goals all year. Their coaches really preach a defense first game.

    So from that standpoint, it’s good i suppose, Hayden is learning to play a complete game which he’ll benefit from in the future.

    Yale’s goalie, Alex Lyon, has been fantastic. He’ll be going up against upcoming college free agent Matt O’Connor from BU. Lyon is also undrafted (a Minnesota born kid) but is just finishing his sophomore year. Should be a good game to watch.

    Both of these guys would be nice gets as college free agents, O’Connor has been at Blackhawk prospect camps (as well as other teams). Not sure about Lyon or whether he’s considering leaving Yale after two years, he’ll be 23 this year.

  5. Based on stats it looks like Hayden has been used more on wing. He hadnt been taking many draws when I last checked. He was their leading scorer for a while, despite fewer games. But he tailed offensively toward the end of the year.

  6. Let me say this about Bowman, he seems to act quickly in rectifying situations he sees coming down the pipe.

    1) When he was first hired, there was little defense depth in the minors and he looked to draft and trade to fix that issue quickly
    2) A weaker minor league system was perceived when he was hired and he worked to correct that too. His first few drafts “upped” the team in the minor league rankings quickly. While some players have either busted or stayed in the minors longer than we like…a # of his draft picks are playing on the big league club now (I am going to give him credit for Kruger from 09 because I feel he (and Scotty) probably pushed for that) Kruger, Shaw, Nordstrom, TT, and Saad
    3) He is now fixing the lack of size issue.

    Sometimes I feel Tallon gets dumped on for being a bad GM for the Hawks…when clearly he did some good things for Chicago. Bowman seems to get crapped on too, but I usually feel that we have a good one. He manages the cap well while fielding a continually playoff contender. He either drafts or trades or signs young players (I am referring to players without NHL Experience) to give the big league team options. I feel his weakest area is probably player development (to an extent) and his communication with Q.

    That being said, very few GMs and coaches are always on the same page. They have different responsibilities that often conflict. While both positions want to “win”, the GM is looking for long-term development. The coach is usually in a win-now mode.

  7. Size really does matter and a solid, sturdy and “pure defensemen” who can pick you up at the blue line and rub you OUT and get into the corners and hold the puck and not get KNOCKED off his skates and who will use his SIZE to keep traffic from clear of the front of the NET is the “Achilles heel” of this organization. You don’t need a LOT OF SIZE but you do need some.
    A pure defensemen who does not need to score or critical in leading the offense like the current “system” can actually get to the NHL faster if he just need to lay stand up defense! It’s the Leddy and Duncan hybrid types who are multi-functional that take a lot of time to develop and timing and the right d-partner becomes very critical.We just need a young Chris Pronger 6 foot 6 and 220 . . . 10 goals a year max . . . a guy who just used his size to change the flow of a game, hall of famer? Maybe we get lucky . . . Go Hawks!

  8. Excellent write up Tab, another guy that can be included is 2014 5th rounder 6’4 Andreas Soderberg. He’s the biggest of the Swedes in the Hawks organization. He’s a guy who has an NHL body at a young age and hopefully continues to develop his game.

  9. @ Mike the Mook

    Couldn’t have said it better. Solid defensive defenseman are a necessary piece of any championship team. Where are the Hawks without a guy like Hammer? Hammer is not a guy that gets a lot of press but he’s probably the Hawks best defenseman.

  10. Something seemed to have happened with Hayden at Yale. The information I’ve seen is sketchy so it may be more inuendo than fact, but I thought Hayden was suspended by the team about a month ago and after he returned to the lineup he was playing RW on the 4th line – like the coach demoted him. I haven’t been able to find anything definitive, but the boxscores earlier in the season had him consistently on the 1st or 2nd line and then the drop to the 4th line and I don’t think he scored a point once he was demoted so I’m guessing his TOI went down and he wasn’t playing with offensively talented linemates.

    If someone has any information – please share it.

  11. Getting bigger and younger are good things…
    With the salary cap crunch coming and with Q’s affinity to play older players, how this shakes out is anybody’s guess…

    Does Q finally give in and play (trust) younger players? Or does he force SB’s hand (again) to sign bargain basement players to fill the voids this roster will have next year?

    I cannot see the bargain basement trend going on forever AND Q will eventually have to give some (more than years past) of the young talent SB continues to sign… Hopefully that will be next year!

    Tab: Is there any truth to SB and Q having differences of opinion when it comes to the Hawks young talent?

  12. re: Q playing younger players – there has to be an opportunity and a qualified young player (who – and this is important – plays the way the organization wants) for the kid to get a shot. I believe Quenneville will indeed give some of these kids a chance in roles for which they are appropriate. Joakim Nordstrom has received a really nice opportunity this season. Teravainen got benched on Wednesday but he’s getting an extended look this season w/ 88 on the shelf. And TvR was playing a nice role before he got hurt.

    What we have to keep in mind is that not every prospect that comes thru the organization wants to do things the way the Blackhawks ask/want/expect them to be done. Last night on Facebook I compared Brandon Pirri to Stephon Marbury. 20 goals… 2 assists…

    Finally, we had a discussion on the Facebook page about this (stunning, I know) and someone mentioned that “Quenneville has never put a kid into a top-4 defensive role.” I reminded that individual that Niklas Hjalmarsson was a “kid” who average over 19 minutes a night in his rookie season in 2009-10, and since he assumed a top 4 role there really hasn’t been an opportunity for more than one spot to be open. Nick Leddy was moved out because of financial issues; the team had to get under the cap and they weren’t likely going to afford him (his new deal w/ the Islanders is much more expensive than the Blackhawks would have fathomed offering). Right now we want a #4 dman, and one of TvR, Johns & Paliotta might fill that role next year. But let’s not lose sight of the depth this organization has had at the NHL level since the start of the lockout season when the cap issues were pretty well in the rear view mirror. If the player doesn’t want to do it the organization’s way, and there isn’t an opportunity, it’s just too bad.

  13. Good comparison Tab! It’s definitely Pirri’s fault that his linemates are only shooting 3% when he’s on the ice and that he’s shooting like 14%+. He should probably defer on shooting or something to set up his teammates better.

  14. With Hayden seemingly being demoted, you wonder if their is a rift with the coaches where he perhaps leaves school early

  15. Good to see talent with speed AND size in the pipeline. Hopefully Stan will resist the urge to bring in tired old veterans and provide Q with a group of young talent to develop. Should be interesting to see how Q develops the young talent he is given.

  16. Ernie, it’s all speculation at this point, but if there is a rift with the coaches, it would be troubling and raise a red flag.

  17. Young talent is great to have but let’s not forget this organization has refused to rush prospects. Either in their estimation they’re ready for full time NHL duty or not.

    Economics may force some hands but this management group has consistently tried to ensure guys are ready or even over ready before moving them up (Shaw, TT, Saad) or out (Clendening, Dahlbeck).

    On Nilsson the goaltender, I too wonder what their plans are for him. He’s a restricted FA as I understand it and went to Russia because he didn’t want to play in the AHL with the Islanders org.

  18. Yale has been eliminated by BU, so Hayden’s season is over. I realized it was on ESPNu TV just in time to turn it on and see BU score in OT to win the game. The boxscore showed Hayden at RW on the 2nd line. He had 1 SOG, took 1 minor penalty and was even +/- for the game.

    I hope he stays in school for 1 more year. The last I saw him play was WJC and I think he needs to improve his skating quite a bit before he’s ready to play in the NHL.

  19. Yale just lost in OT to BU.

    As far as young players developement and worrying TT may not be worth the hype. We all agree Saad is the real deal and will probably garner a 4 million dollar contract this summer. Look at his numbers when he was in Rockford. 20 points in 31 games. Teuvo has 25 points in 35 games. I know its apples and oranges, but still. Early success doesnt mean a whole lot. Same thing goes for any other player. We have to trust the guys that get paid to do this stuff know what theyre doing. And by all accounts they do. Jeremy Morin is a prime example. Most people, myself included wanted him up here. He’s been moved, has had some injury issues (glad it sounds like he’ll be OK) but he hadn’t done what he thought he would. Pirri I think the jury is still out. 20 goals to 2 assists? Certainly the goals number will regress.

    Despite our bellyaching. It certainly appears the they know what they are doing.

  20. In respect to Morin-Pirri-Hayes bros. etc It must be noted that they wouldn’t have gotten the same playing time if they stayed here, so good for them and it’s no use crying over spilt milk……. IMHO

  21. Tab/Hof, good points. That’s the thing our organization hasn’t andisint going to all of the sudden do a 180 on longterm plan. How ever many of our good prospects are ready/when the guy/s is ready they’ll be in. Were not going to bring them all up at once just because of the cap. Bowman will continue to add nhl established veterans until he doesn’t have to. Bowman has and is still providing Q/team with good young players. This is what Tab said in the other thread, we have a Calvary of good young players coming. Even with a little roster turnover, this is not 2010ish. The stacked farm Bowman has assembled has several big defenseman and nasty two-way checking type FW.

    One things for sure Bowman will have the roster contending every yr (especially with this parity bs). Some yrs we will be deeper then others. ANA and CHI are the only top teams to have a top10 farm, this will show over these 5-7yrs coming up for those who don’t believe it.

  22. The long term success of the organization will depend on the ability to draft and develop young players. This is especially important in relation to the Blackhawks given their aging team and salary cap issues. Bringing in guys like Zus, Rozy, Carcillo, Richards and Timonen to name a few, and then resigning them past their usefulness will not strengthen the organization. Draft picks will be squandered and the team will continue to get older and slower. Bringing in a few quality veterans not clearly past their prime would be advantageous. The ability to develop the young guys is of paramount importance.

  23. HAWKS- need young CHEAP prospects moving forward to deal with the large $$$ paid to some… and SB trades them for Over the hill/average rentals… not a good business model…

    Atkinson just skated backwards vs Hawks (while 4 on 5)- for a break away,,, yet people here think the hawks are one of the faster teams in NHL???

    Flames -GM got it right … SB- got it wrong

  24. Bowman has dozens of cheap caphit prospects coming for the next 10yrs. To compliment the best core in hockey.

    Calgary can do that because they do not have a good core.

  25. What I find interesting about Pirri and the 22 G and 2 asst. is when he led the AHL he had 22 G and 53 asst. He is playing rw for panthers not center like here, maybe we had him out of position. For what is worth they use him as 1 or 2 on the shootouts where he is 3 out of 7, yeh I know what’s done is done. Go Hawks hope things start looking better soon.

  26. Pirri is a Glorified point producer for NHL bottom 1o teams. Will not ever play for a contender and put up points. Which means top 10 teams. Nothing against the guy, he just cant play quality two-way FW. Good NHL player, not a good two-way player. Maybe he could play for the Red Wings. I hear there in the East conference these days, to make the playoffs.

    The Chicago Blackhawks are only interested in quality two-way players. Nothing against anybody or posters.

    Think like Kentucky Basketball. (and you’ll get the idea.)

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