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Robin Press will sign AHL contract with Rockford IceHogs for next season

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The alternative was for Press to leave the Hawks organization and go back to Europe.

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman prospect Robin Press will sign a one-year AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs, reports The Athletic’s Scott Powers. The move keeps Press with a Blackhawks affiliate even though their draft rights to the 22-year-old expire on July 1.

By having Press, a 2013 seventh-round pick by the Blackhawks, sign a minor league contract with Rockford, they will still be able to keep a close eye on him in the organization. His agent, Todd Reynolds, told Powers that Press had options to return to Sweden, but his camp decided there’s still a chance he can reach the NHL eventually.

The Hawks selected Press, who converted from forward to defenseman a few years ago, with the No. 211 overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft. He spent the past two seasons primarily playing for Djurgårdens IF in the SHL, although the Hawks brought him over to North America midway through this season. Press ended up playing nine games with Rockford and 30 games for the Indy Fuel in the ECHL.

Next season, he should have opportunities with the IceHogs. The Hawks currently have Luc Snuggerud, Carl Dahlstrom, Viktor Svedberg, and Robin Norell under contract for 2017-18. Gustav Forsling is also signed, but he’s likely to make the NHL leap. Ville Pokka, Nolan Valleau, and Dillon Fournier are restricted free agents on July 1.

So the IceHogs will at least have Snuggerud, Dahlstrom, Svedberg, Norell, and Press to cover five defensemen spots next season. Maybe Pokka fills another if he re-signs (although it seems like there’s a good chance he’s traded). For the most part, Chicago’s AHL depth for next season is intact.