A Look Ahead: Blackhawks Blue Line Prospects

With the signing of free agent college defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, the Blackhawks organization is loaded with prospects on the blue line. How will they all shake out as this calendar year progresses?


Over the last month, the Hawks have also signed Dillon Fournier and acquired David Rundblad in a trade. Fournier, a second round pick in 2012, had his 2013-14 season cut short by injury; van Riemsdyk suffered a similar fate. Let’s take a look at how these three impact the Hawks’ organizational depth.

Stephen Johns
2nd round pick (#60) – 2010
Notre Dame (Hockey East): 39 games, 8 goals, 12 assists

Adam Clendening
2nd round pick (#36) – 2011
Rockford (AHL): 64 games, 8 goals, 42 assists

Klas Dahlbeck
3rd round pick (#79) – 2011
Rockford (AHL): 64 games, 10 goals 24 assists

David Rundblad
Acquired via trade March 4, 2014
NHL Career: 53 games, 1 goal, 8 assists

Trevor van Riemsdyk
New Hampshire (Hockey East): 26 games, 4 goals, 19 assists
From Craig Custance of ESPN:
He had 23 points in 26 games for UNH in a season shortened by an ankle injury. “He’s one of the top five defensemen in college hockey in the country,” Umile said. “He’s skilled, he can handle the puck. He can play defense. He has a great awareness of what’s going on. He can beat the forechecker. He’s really got it all.” He’s got offensive savvy, but the challenge for him will be skating. “He’s an upright skater who doesn’t move real well,” said a scout. “He’s got offensive skill. Put him on the power play, let him shoot the puck and pass the puck.” 

Michael Paliotta
3rd round pick (#70) – 2011
Vermont (Hockey East): 37 games, 5 goals, 22 assists

Carl Dahlström
2nd round pick (#51) – 2013
Linköping J20 (SuperElite): 23 games, 2 goals, 12 assists
Linköping (SHL): 12 games, 0 goals, 1 assist

Dillon Fournier
2nd round pick (#48) – 2012
Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL): 36 games, 13 goals, 19 assists

Travis Brown
5th round pick (#149) – 2012
Moose Jaw (WHL): 43 games, 9 goals, 38 assists
Victoria (WHL): 28 games, 5 goals, 10 assists

Robin Norell
4th round pick (#111) – 2013
Djurgardens (Swe-1): 22 games, 0 goals, 5 assists
Sweden (WJC): 7 games, 1 goal, 0 assists

Even before GM Stan Bowman gave up a second round pick for Rundblad and signed van Riemsdyk, the Hawks were deep on the blue line. The Blackhawks have two picks in the third round – their own and Florida’s from the Brandon Pirri trade – but giving up a second round pick for a player that hasn’t shown much at the NHL level is increasingly questionable given the state of the blue line in the organizations.

These prospects – specifically Johns, Clendening, Dahlbeck and van Riemsdyk – could push Rundblad for a spot on the Chicago roster next year.

Johns, Paliotta and Justin Holl (Minnesota) are still alive in the NCAA Frozen Four tournament, which begins on Friday.

18 thoughts on “A Look Ahead: Blackhawks Blue Line Prospects

  • March 27, 2014 at 7:08 am

    We were loaded with FW a few yrs ago, now we are getting loaded with D. We are moar stacked then before. These 20 yrs (on yr 6 now) are going to be fun.

  • March 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Remember when we were worried who the Hawks 5th D-Man was going to be…

  • March 27, 2014 at 9:29 am

    I am really anticipating the possibility of seeing both Oduya and Rosy gone next year. I think its also possible Johns opens the year in Rockford…. 2,7,4,8,Clendening, Rundblad, TvR in Chicago… but Johns would be up in an instant if Rundblad or TvR can’t lock down the spot….

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Would love to see Leddy paired with Hammer. This pairing would be awesome at both ends. I do not know what “veteran” Q would use if both Oduya, Rosy and BB are gone. BUT I have no problem going to camp with Clendening, Johns, Rundblad and TvR all pushing to be 5, 6 and 7. That however, will probably not be acceptable to Q, so maybe the Hawks trade for a Journeyman 5th Dman to go with a rookie in the 3d pairing.

    I doubt we will see anything too drastic this summer. The boom will be lowered in the 15/16 season when the Hawks will be REALLY scrapping for Cap space.

    Maybe this knowledge is why some of our NHL ready or near ready Hogs are being held down. Get as much exp as possible before the MUST be used due to Cap restraints.

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Thanks Tab…excellent article…I have watched most of Rockford’s game this year, a quite a few last year…there is no doubt in my mind that Clendening is ready for the show, and so is Dahlbeck…they need to be given a legitimate shot at roster spots next year as if they don’t then Johns and TVR will be there the following year for sure…I can’t see Johns needing more than a season in Rockford and TVR is apparently ready now, according to a friend…Dahlstrom was described by a European scout as the BEST D prospect in Europe and the most NHL ready…Dahlstrom has a man’s body and skates well for a big DMan…plus he is starting to find his offensive game…that’s 5 DMen that are certain to be NHL DMen in the next 3 years for sure…so whether for the Hawks, or not, they will in the NHL soon.

    Tab and I have agreed on this for some time now that is Oduya who will likely be traded this summer…Rozy’s under contract and I definitely see him coming back one more time to teach (as if Q needs much help coaching DMen) and to play one out of every 2 or 3 games to solidify the D pairings…you don’t want 2 rookies on one pairing, so I could see the lineup next looking like this…


    Seabrook’s deal is up in 2 years…that’s when I see Johns becoming a permanent fixture.

    Hammer is young and his deal is incredibly CAP friendly, so he’s staying long term…Rozy is done in one more year…so there are openings…hopefully Rundblad is used as a sweetener for a summer trade…Oduya/Rundblad to somewhere in Canada for picks…

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Mike, I agree with you on Leddy, but I don’t see it happening…I think Hammer will get Clendening, and Leddy will skate with a mix of Rozy, Dahlbeck, Rundblad…these are 3 balanced pairings…

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Any word on TT for or Bicks tonight? How do you tell your top prospect…..”You’re gonna sit this one out for your own protection”. Since a lot of bloggers here don’t think tonights points are critical I say, rest Zues, TT and even Hossa and use BB and Morin. Let Morin bang some bodies, Q hates him anyhow.

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Brad…..no doubt on the pairings. But I would love to see them together

  • March 27, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Out of these prospect I see 2 of them as future fixtures; Clendening and Johns. Although count me as one of the few fans who also saw Dylan Olsen as a fixture so things can change quickly.

    Oduya and Rosey’s roster spots are the 2 I feel like are up for grabs sooner then later. I don’t see Hammer, Seabrook or Keith going anywhere anytime soon. Leddy has always been a huge question mark for me, but at 23 years old and as a 3rd pair 30 pts is impressive although he always leaves me wanting more.

  • March 27, 2014 at 11:21 am

    How could points not be critical when we’re only 3 points up on Colorado?

  • March 27, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Has it been confirmed that Bickell got hurt while fighting Simmonds? Because that only makes sense.

  • March 27, 2014 at 11:50 am

    It’s all a crap shoot. I don’t know what the specific number is, but I know it’s long odds for prospects to become an NHL player. Of the dozen or so d-prospects, we’ll be fortunate to have a couple develop into NHL calibre d-men. Most will be on the fringe – good enough for several cups of coffee but not good enough to have an NHL career.

    Rundblad – his skating is supposed to be his best asset and yet it looks like he’s either lost a couple steps (not likely at age 22) or the slowness is between his ears (more likely). He looks hesitant and a hesitant d-man is a disaster. Who knows if this will be corrected.

    Clendening – Sr.Brad (not to pick a fight, please) – you are certainly a “glass half full” kinda guy but I fear your Clendening assessment is a little too effusive because you’re the only guy who watches him play that thinks he’s improved enough on the defensive side of the puck to play for the Hawks. There are several Icehog season ticket holders that consistently post he has a long way to go in that department. The only firsthand observation I have is from seeing Rockford play on TV earlier this season and I didn’t notice him enough to have an opinion one way of the other. I’m just going by numbers – as in one guy (you) says he’s ready while several others say he isn’t.

    Johns – let’s just make sure we sign him and then we can worry about if and when.

    Fournier – great wheels and promise – hopefully not Lalonde #2.

    TvR – who knows?

    All the Swedes – Dahlbeck, Dahlstrom, Norell, (and don’t forget) Svedberg, (Rundblad was mentioned earlier) – usually well schooled … ???

    Brown – intriguing prospect. Puts up good offensive numbers and since he moved from Moosehead to Victoria he’s a plus in the +/- category – so maybe he has a chance too.

  • March 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Saw the IceHogs live and in person twice this year and both times Clendening stood out to me. Not that I’m much of an expert in the technical aspects of the game and that it’s SSS but I thought he was fantastic.

  • March 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks J.C.

    Keeping score:

    Clendening – yes: 2
    Clendening – no: 3

  • March 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    ER, if you were to check in with some of the beat writers, they will tell you the same thing…his D play in the 2nd half of the season has removed any doubts…yes, he still makes the odd risky pass, but with the Hogs, sometimes you have to be bold to clear the zone…as with all the young forwards their D and Transition games leave a lot to be desired…

    The proof will be in the pudding, they say, and we will see what happens this summer…as I have pointed out before, Bowman drafted Clendening ahead of Saad in the early 2nd round, knowing full well that Saad was a steal at that point, and they might lose him…

  • March 27, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Sr. Brad – obviously I hope you’re right.

  • March 28, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Dahlback is ready for the NHL next year. He was always a good stay at home Dman but now he has added offensive game and taken his overall play to another level. He’s probably a top 5 D-man in the AHL this year. Clendening as his blue line partner this year has really improved his defensive awareness. They should both be with the Hawks next year in my opinion. Oduya & Rosi are goners in the off-season. I really like what I’ve read about van Riemsdyk. How nice is it that the Hawks have had their picks of the top college free agents because of their Stanley Cup contending status (even if LeBlanc hasn’t shown much). Then of course their is Johns who has physicality you can’t teach and can bring another to dimension to the blueline. He’ll probably start in Rockford next year but I don’t expect him to take very long.

    2014-14 Blueline

    Hammer – Dahlbeck
    Leddy – Clendening


    In the Hole: Van Riemsdyk/Johns

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