This is the fourth installment in Second City Hockey’s six-part position group preview on the Blackhawks and their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. This article focuses on AHL defensemen.
Nicolas Beaudin (LHD): 7G, 49A in 53GP; 2G, 6A in 16 playoff games (QMJHL)
Adam Boqvist (RHD): 20G, 40A in 54GP; 10G, 3A in 11GP (OHL)
Chicago will have two defensemen who were selected in the first round of the NHL draft play for the IceHogs for the first time when Beaudin and Boqvist take the ice. Both players are puck-moving blue liners who are able to create offense. Boqvist, who has a great right-handed wrist shot, has game-changing offensive ability and is smart with the puck. Beaudin has great hockey sense and is smart with his gap positioning, but needs to improve his speed. Boqvist, who is only 19, could receive an NHL call up this season, and if he plays fewer than nine NHL games his entry-level contract wouldn’t start until the 2020-21 season.
Dennis Gilbert (LHD): 1GP (NHL); 5G, 9A in 63GP (AHL)
Philip Holm (LHD): 7G, 19A in 61GP; 1G, 4A in 7GP (KHL)
Gilbert isn’t like most of the organization’s defensemen, he’s a throwback player that plays with a physical presence, can block shots and takes pride in defending. Gilbert skates well and is able to find teammates with passes to breakout of the defensive zone. His physical presence is an element Chicago or Rockford can use to complement it’s smaller, puck-moving blue liners. Holm, meanwhile, is coming off a KHL all-star season after splitting time in the AHL between the Chicago Wolves and Utica Comets. He also impressed in the preseason, but unlike Gilbert isn’t waiver exempt.
Lucas Carlsson (LHD): 9G, 24A in 69GP (AHL)
Chad Krys (LHD): 4A in 9GP (AHL); 8G, 12A in 30GP (NCAA)
Carlsson was the IceHogs most consistent defensemen last season with 33 points, including 21 (six goals, eight primary assists) during 5-on-5 play in 69 games. He was also on the ice for 41 goals for and 45 against. Given it was his first pro season in North America and the bevy of injuries the team face, it was a fine transition for him. Krys joined Rockford after his junior season at Boston University and made an immediate impact with his ability to maintain tempo during transition plays. Both players will likely be used on either side and on the second power play unit.
Jack Ramsey (RHD): 1A in 4GP (ECHL); 3G, 1A in 38GP (NCAA)
Jake Ryczek (RHD): 9G, 24A in 51GP; 13A in 23GP (QMJHL)
Joni Tuulola (LHD): 4G, 10A in 52GP (AHL)
Tuulola is the lone player among this group on a NHL deal. He was a depth player last season and is expected to take on the same role this season. It’s unlikely the Blackhawks will re-sign him before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Ryczek enters his first pro season after a strong season with the Halifax Mooseheads that earned him an AHL contract. Ramsey made the transition from forward to defenseman after his senior season at Minnesota. Both Ramsey and Ryczek, who was assigned to the ECHL on Wednesday, will be candidates to bounce back between the AHL and ECHL when needed.