(Ed. note: Hey guys, welcome Steve Primrose to SCH! He’s based in Rockford and will be providing us regular reports on the IceHogs, Chicago’s AHL affiliate, throughout the season. Here’s his first post on Rockford’s newest players.)
Much like the parent club, the 2016-17 Rockford IceHogs have hit the ground walking. After five games their record stands at 3-2. Keep in mind, though, that they did start the season 0-2 and have now put together a three-game winning streak.
In five games the IceHogs have combined for a mere 12 goals. On the other side of the coin, and what would have to be considered the bright spot of the season, they’ve also given up only 10 goals. There is no doubt that the strength of this team is found in its defense. Now, this is not to say that they have the most stellar defense in the AHL, but as a team, they are off to a great start defensively. Their leading scorer right now is even a defenseman as Carl Dahlstrom leads the team with two goals and an assist.
There are a lot of names on the IceHogs roster that Blackhawk fans will recognize, such as Mark McNeill, Tanner Kero, Kyle Baun, Ville Pokka, and Viktor Svedberg. However, there are some new faces on the roster that we’ll take a look at here, including Dahlstrom.
Carl Dahlstrom, defenseman
The big Swedish defenseman is very impressive. He appears to have the entire game. We had a short glimpse of the former second-round pick at the end of the last two IceHogs seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. He looked good last spring, and he looks good now. He is sound in his own end, and has a good offensive game. He moves the puck well as it seems every pass he makes goes right to somebody’s tape. He hasn’t put up big numbers offensively in Sweden. It will be nice to see how he progresses spending a full season on the North American ice. He’s also got impressive size at 6’4 and 223 pounds. For such a big body, he moves very well. There’s some potential here.
Martin Lundberg, forward
Look up Martin Lundberg and what was being said about him in his draft year, and you’ll find the same player today. In summary, the report on him on hockeysfuture.com was, “A very hardworking checking line player with an extreme winner’s instinct. A team player who gets involved in the rough stuff, but will never put up big numbers.” Keep in mind he’s 26 years old, meaning he’s not your normal rookie. If there were a need on the Blackhawks, Lundberg would be high on the list of options at forward, though.
Luke Johnson, forward
This is a very impressive young man. This past offseason all eyes were on the signing of Nick Schmaltz, and the signing of Luke Johnson flew under the radar. Certainly that would be expected as Schmaltz was a former first-rounder, while Johnson was chosen in the fifth round of the 2013 draft (134th overall). What stands out about Johnson is that he is one of those players who just has a nose for the game. He’s an instinctual player with a hard-nosed style who is willing to do the dirty work, plays well at both ends, has a nice shot, and makes some very impressive passes. Chicago might have something here.
Lars Johansson, goaltender
While not what most people are seeking in a goaltender in today’s game (he’s not 6’6 instead checking in at 6’ even,) Johansson makes up for that with his overall game. He’s positionally sound, and has a quick glove and quick feet. Like Lundberg, he is not a young rookie at 28 years old. So far this year he is 2-1, with a .944 save percentage, and a 1.64 GAA. This is not too surprising when you consider he was 27-10 with a .927 SV% and a 1.74 GAA last year playing for Frolunda HC in Sweden. It will be interesting to see how he does for the full season, although he seems like a more than solid replacement for Michael Leighton.