Chicago Blackhawks prospect Radovan Bondra has signed a one-year AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs, the team announced Monday. It’s a somewhat unexpected move that gives Chicago’s AHL affiliate added depth for the upcoming season.
Bondra, a 2015 fifth-round pick, was expected to return to the WHL’s Prince George Cougars this season. Powers says he was in Prince George’s lineup as recently as Friday after being released from Blackhawks training camp, so it appears something changed that caused Chicago to want to get him in the pros.
The primary difference with an AHL contract is that Bondra will not be transferrable to the Blackhawks until he signs an entry-level NHL deal. The other notable thing here is that Bondra will be eligible for the 2018 Winter Olympics, as only AHL players signed to one- or two-way NHL contracts are not allowed to go to Pyeongchang. Bondra has represented Slovakia at the past three World Juniors.
The IceHogs’ roster should look a lot different next season, and not just because of the unexpected addition of Bondra. Much of the team has been overhauled with a new group of prospects, although we don’t know the exact mix yet because players like Alex DeBrincat, John Hayden, Ville Pokka, and Jan Rutta are still battling for playing time.
Rockford now has nine players under contract on AHL deals for the 2017-18 season: Bondra, Brandon Anselmini, Tommy Olczyk, Will Pelletier, Robin Press, Darren Raddysh, Tyler Sikura, Matt Tomkins, and Alex Wideman. They’ll be joined primarily by Hawks prospects on NHL contracts who don’t make the big league team.
The Blackhawks selected Bondra with the No. 151 overall pick in 2015. He recorded 32 goals and 63 points in 62 games split between Prince George and Vancouver in the WHL last season.