Monthly Archives: December 2010

Dylan Olsen signs with Blackhawks, leaving school according to report

The Duluth News Tribune is reporting the Blackhawks have signed their 2009 1st round draft choice (28th overall) defenseman Dylan Olsen to a three-year entry level contract.

Olsen is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, currently one of the top five teams in Division-I college hockey.  Once a collegiate player signs a professional contract, he or she becomes ineligible to play collegiate athletics.

For Olsen, 19, the decision to leave his Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs teammates mid-season was academic related.  He turns 20 this coming Monday.

Kevin Pates of the Duluth paper is reporting Olsen will report to the Rockford IceHogs, presumably once the World Junior U20 championships conclude in Buffalo next week.

Olsen has been paired on the first defense unit with Team Canada captain and Nashville Predators’ prospect Ryan Ellis in the tournament.

Its being reported that Olsen’s contract calls for an NHL salary of $525,000 in his first year, $700,000 in the second and $810,000 in the third.  Olsen will earn the standard $67,500 while in the minors.  Each year has a signing bonus of $90,000 tacked on to it.

UMD head coach Scott Sandelin expressed his disappointment, but also gave clarity to the situation in an interview with Pates:

“Dylan was having a good year and we were expecting a better, more confident player to return to us after the experience of the junior tournament,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We knew how much making Canada’s team meant to him and that it could only help his play. We’re just disappointed he chose to make a change at midseason.”

Sandelin did note that recent academic developments would likely have left Olsen ineligible for the second semester.

Olsen is the second Blackhawks draft pick in the last two years to leave school early due to poor academics.

In January of 2009, University of New Hampshire defenseman and team captain Joe Charlebois was forced off his team in the middle of his senior season when he was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season.  Charlebois subsequently signed his first pro contract with the Blackhawks and reported to the Rockford IceHogs.  Charlebois has since left the Blackhawks organization.

Olsen also becomes the third Chicago prospect this year to leave his college team early, joining Brandon Pirri (R.P.I.) and Nick Leddy (Minnesota) who both left school after their freshman seasons.

Olsen’s arrival clouds and already cluttered IceHogs’ blue line.  Assuming Nick Leddy returns to Rockford at the completion of the World Junior tournament, he’ll join Olsen, Brian Connelly, Garnet Exelby, Ryan Stanton, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde and Wade Brookbank (who splits time on the wing).  Not to mention the possibility of Jassen Cullimore returning at some point.

The Olsen signing does raise one issue roster-wise.  The Blackhawks are now at the maximum 50-man organizational roster limit.  Which means any acquisition the team makes must involve a player moving off the current chart of 50.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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IceHogs in crucial stretch

The last-place Rockford IceHogs take the ice tonight looking for an absolutely essential two points versus division rival Houston Aeros.

The last place IceHogs will be in Oklahoma City, the team directly above them in the standings, this weekend for a two game set.  Rockford currently trails the Oklahoma City Barons by six points, and have three games in hand on them as well.

These next three games very well may determine the IceHogs playoff hopes.  Three wins would be ideal.  Any less than five points will be a setback.

Up front, the IceHogs will start with these lines:

Mathis Olimb – Ryan Potulny – Jeff Taffe

Kyle Beach – Brandon Pirri – Brandon Bollig

Rob Klinkhammer – Evan Brophey – Ben Smith

Kyle Hagel – Pete Leblanc – Igor Makarov

Coach Bill Peters will role four lines for the most part.  Leblanc skates on the first power play unit, which has featured Mathis Olimb on the left point.

Tonight’s defensive pairings should remain as they have since the Christmas break.  Wade Brookbank took the warmup, which is unusual.  Garnet Exelby has been hampered by what appears to be a lower-body injury of late.  That could be why.

Ryan Stanton – Brian Connelly

Garnet Exelby – Shawn Lalonde

Ivan Vishnevskiy – Simon Danis-Pepin

Scratches: Chris DiDomenico (healthy), Wade Brookbank (healthy), Hugh Jessiman (foot), Nick Leddy (loaned to Team USA-WJC), Jeremy Morin (loaned to Team USA-WJC)

Hannu Toivonen, who picked up the victory in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, will get the start.  Alec Richards is backing up.

One referee system tonight.  Marcus Vinnerborg, with Mike Hamilton and Aaron Mills calling the lines.

- IceHogs goal scoring droughts: Ryan Stanton (30), Garnet Exelby (29), Wade Brookbank (18), Simon Danis-Pepin (18), Chris DiDomenico (18), Nick Leddy (12), Brian Connelly (9), Rob Klinkhammer (9), Ivan Vishnevskiy (8), Brandon Pirri (8), Kyle Hagel (7), Hugh Jessiman (7), Ryan Potulny (7), Kyle Beach (6),  Igor Makarov (5), Brandon Bollig (3), Jeff Taffe (3), Pete Leblanc (2), Shawn Lalonde (1), Evan Brophey (0), Jeremy Morin (0), Mathis Olimb (0), Ben Smith (0),

DiDomenico and Stanton have each yet to score a professional goal.  Exelby’s drought is actually longer but dates back to 2003, when he last played in the AHL prior to this season.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Duncan Keith troubles and trends; team shot attempts

Ask Brian Campbell.  Big money typically results in double the scrutiny.

We made the point last season once Duncan Keith signed his 13-year $72 million contract extension, in turn making Keith the highest-paid player in the history of the organization.  Sometimes the scrutiny is unfair or unjust.  But nitpicking the performance of athletes is a scene hardly unique to a specific sport or era.  High ticket prices and the public’s knowledge of player salaries have intensified this though. Read more »

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Dec 28th news/notes: Kane returns, Morin injured at tournament, Scott no-sells new nickname

Patrick Kane is expected to make his return to the lineup after missing three weeks with a left leg injury.  The original diagnosis was three weeks, so he’s on schedule despite some setbacks in his attempts to practice with the team over the last two weeks.  Kane injured himself 23 seconds into the December 5th game with Calgary at United Center.

With Hossa and Stalberg both returning from separate injuries in Sunday’s win over Columbus, this would give Joel Quenneville a full, healthy roster for the first time since November 26th at Anaheim.

Tonight presents an interesting roster decision for Joel Quenneville.  He hasn’t been a fan of Stalberg’s game of late when he’s been healthy, and it is the Blues, so John Scott’s presence could be needed.  However, with there still be a measure of uncertainty on how Kane’s “lower-body” injury will react in real game action, electing to dress a guy who can’t play much more than 5-6 minutes over Stalberg, Pisani or perhaps even Skille could present a tremendous disadvantage should Kane’s injury flare up during the game, especially early on.

[Update] The Blackhawks have announced Fernando Pisani is out tonight due to an illness.  So tonight’s likely scratches will be Ryan Johnson, Jordan Hendry and Pisani.  Marty Turco is expected to start. Read more »

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Lindbloom: How do I smell from here?

Mr Big Himself

By Rich Lindbloom 

Back when football was football and they didn’t cry about the field conditions or weather, George Halas was asked the question in the title of this dissertation. My disdain for the men in the black and white stripes could probably be traced to this moment. After the Bears were called for a 10 yard holding penalty and a 10 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Papa Bear hollered out to the zebra in charge, “You Stink!” The ref proceeded to walk off another ten yards then hollered over to Halas, “How do I smell from here?”

Tell me Hawk fans, after 35 games this year, how are the olfactory nerves perceiving the scent emanating from the 2010/11 Blackhawks? I’m not talking about their equipment bags – truly one of the grossest smells known to man. Any parent who has driven their children home after a hockey game knows exactly what I‘m talking about.  The smell actually hurts the nerve endings in the nose. No, I’m talking about rating the Hawks play this year, on a scale of 1-10, on the stink-o-meter. Are you beginning to think things are starting to smell like a bed of roses after the pummeling’s administered to the Wings and the Kings? Or is the foul odor of last Monday’s Avalanche disaster still lingering like a silent, but deadly, emission of flatulence. You know what I’m talking about – one of those ones where you immediately recognize you need to leave the room. Read more »

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Brandon Pirri cut from Team Canada WJC roster

Brandon Pirri was released from Team Canada’s World Junior Championships selection camp this morning.  He had survived the initial round of cuts on Tuesday, but not today’s final cuts.

Pirri was one of 39 players invited to the camp.  The Blackhawks 2nd pick in the 2009 Entry Draft (2nd round #59th overall) was invited to this week’s selection camp after not being one of the 48 players who attended last summer’s Team Canada WJC development camp.  Pirri was also one of only two players in the Under-20 camp who are currently playing professional hockey.  The other being Brayden Schenn.

Pirri took this morning’s news very hard.  Pirri, and the rest of this morning’s cuts received the news individually just after six o’clock at their hotel in Toronto.  Pirri will now return to the Rockford IceHogs.

Dylan Olsen (1st round – 2009, #28th overall), defenseman with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (WCHA), will be the lone Blackhawks’ representative on Team Canada.  Olsen is one of seven defenseman on the Canadian roster.  Olsen is a Calgary native who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read more »

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