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Blackhawks AHL prospect update for 11/29: Isaak Phillips is flourishing

The 21-year old defensemen leads Rockford in points in the last eight games with 10 points (2 G, 8 A).

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Brad Repplinger

Next in the Chicago Blackhawks prospect update, we focus on those playing in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs.

Rockford slowly inched their way up in the AHL’s Central Division standings to fourth overall thanks to a 5-3-0 stretch of play. Last weekend, the IceHogs split a home-and-home series against the Milwaukee Admirals: a 6-4 win on Friday followed by a 5-3 loss on Saturday.

Note: Arvid Söderblom has not played in the AHL since the last prospect update, so he will not be included below.

Forwards

Lukas Reichel

Stats: 19 points (8 G, 11 A), 29 SOG in 17 games played

Reichel added another eight points in his last nine games and is currently on a three-game point streak with two goals and three assists in that trio of games. Although not producing at a higher rate than he did last year, the level of consistency this year has been impressive: his longest stretch of games without a point this season is two.

The winger-turned-center has also been playing with younger players lately more than the veterans. A few highlights:

Cole Guttman

Stats: 7 points (3 G, 4 A), 15 SOG in 9 games played

Guttman missed over three weeks due to injury, but he showed no rust in his return, immediately scoring a goal in his first game back and then having seven points in his next eight games. It’s still a small sample, but the 5-foot-9 powerhouse is currently the second best points-per-game forward among AHL prospects on this list with 0.78.

Mike Hardman

Stats: 8 points (1 G, 4 A), 30 SOG in 14 games played

Hardman has cooled a bit over his last five games, managing to only knock in two assists in that span. The IceHogs are pretty healthy at the moment, so Hardman has, unfortunately for him, been one of the players rotated down — and sometimes out of — the lineup. Over the weekend against Milwaukee, Hardman was playing in on a more defensive fourth-line role, which is the lowest in the lineup he’s played since joining Rockford as a regular last season.

Hardman’s points-per-game rate is still a respectable 0.57, but that is down from the 0.74 rate he had last season.

Josiah Slavin

Stats: 4 points (0 G, 4 A), 21 SOG in 17 games played

Although it may not seem like it with the lack of points — he has just three assists in his last eight games and only four points total in 17 games for the season — it’s been a strong season for Slavin so far in Rockford from a defensive standpoint: he’s the top forward on the penalty kill, he typically faces the highest quality of competition, and he’s always trusted to play in the final minutes of a game when the IceHogs are in need of a shutdown player.

Still, Slavin has recently been given an opportunity for more offensive production: he was moved up to play with Reichel and Teplý, with whom he produced at a high clip last season. He doesn’t have a point with the duo yet, but it’s only been a couple of games so far, and it’s something to keep an eye on if Slavin sticks in the top-six group.

Michael Teplý

Stats: 9 points (3 G, 6 A), 26 SOG in 14 games played

Teplý hasn’t had a point in his last two games, but he’s been otherwise very consistent with his production since being reunited with Reichel, scoring a point at least one point in six of the eight games before that. Against the Chicago Wolves on Nov. 19, he scored twice, including this overtime winner:

Defensemen

Louis Crevier

Stats: 2 points (0 G, 2 A), 22 SOG in 16 games played

Crevier had no points over his last seven games, but that’s not surprising considering his role as a shutdown defensemen. He and Vlasic appear to get the most defensive zone starts and likely some of the toughest opponents.

From this Prospect Notebook article by Scott Powers of The Athletic, Blackhawks assistant general manager of development Mark Eaton said this about Crevier and his primary partner, Vlasic:

“Between the two of them, they take up a lot of room out there, and, they’re both really good skaters, so that that allows them to take up even more room and I think they’ve complemented each other pretty well. They’ve done a good job of first and foremost defending hard and taking care of their own zones, but moving the puck efficiently.”

Jakub Galvas

Stats: 12 points (1 G, 11 A), 30 SOG in 15 games played

Galvas has slowed down from the torrid pace he was on to start the season and has just three assists in his last seven games. Still, Galvas’ start was so impressive that he’s been ranking in the top-10 among AHL defensemen under the age of 24, peaking at No. 4 on November 18th.

Ian Mitchell

Stats: 6 points (2 G, 4 A), 9 SOG in 6 games played

After recovering from a tendon injury in his wrist, Mitchell was originally sent to Rockford on a conditioning stint and he picked up right where he left off last season as Rockford’s No. 1 defensemen. He had five points (2 G, 3 A) in those first three games before being recalled to the Blackhawks.

Unfortunately, Mitchell wasn’t given much of an opportunity in Chicago and other defensemen came back healthy, so Mitchell was once again sent to Rockford where he picked up another assist in his last two games while playing in all situations.

Isaak Phillips

Stats: 14 points (2 G, 12 A), 28 SOG in 17 games played

The strength of Rockford over the last couple of seasons has really been in their defensemen, and this time it’s Phillips who has taken it to another level recently. With Vlasic moved up to be with Mitchell, Phillips has been on a more offensively skewed second pairing with Regula, and it’s been working out well for Phillips, who has 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in those eight games.

He has four multi-point games in the last eight, including his most recent game, in which he had the primary assist on all three goals scored against the Admirals.

Alec Regula

Stats: 3 points (2 G, 1 A), 26 SOG in 9 games played

Regula hasn’t been hitting the scoresheet much lately, with just one assist in five games since returning from the Blackhawks. He’s been playing well enough but has definitely been overshadowed by other defensemen lately.

His brief three-game stint in Chicago was rocky as well:

Alex Vlasic

Stats: 4 points (1 G, 3 A), 26 SOG in 15 games played

Vlasic continues to be a reliable — albeit quiet — defensemen for the IceHogs. He scored his first AHL goal and added another assist over his last eight games. Both points came after Vlasic was moved up to be paired with Mitchell on the top pairing. The 6-foot-6 blue-liner had been — as mentioned above — typically paired with Crevier on a defense-first pairing, but Vlasic has seen improvement in helping out offensively even without it showing up much on the scoresheet to warrant a promotion.

Blackhawks assistant general manager of development Mark Eaton:

“Vlas has taken a step as far as finding the opportunities to join the rush and lug the puck on his own when the opportunity presents itself and kind of adding a dimension to his game.”

Goalies

Jaxson Stauber

Stats: .881 save-percentage, 3.69 goals against average in 5 AHL games

There’s not much to report on Stauber, as he’s only played in two games since the last update. He had a good game against the Texas Stars on Nov. 13 in his first game back from injury, stopping 42 of 46 shots faced, but then was regulated to the backup spot for the next three games behind Dylan Wells and Mitchell Weeks. When finally back as starter, Stauber allowed five goals on just 28 shots against the Admirals.

Stauber’s sample size is still too small to really judge, especially with inconsistency in playing time.

Up next: The IceHogs have a head to Texas on Saturday to take on the Stars for the first time this season. The last time Rockford played Texas was in the first round of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, when the IceHogs swept the best-of-three series.