By Chris Block
Injuries are beginning to pile up for the Rockford IceHogs.
While the team had been able to avoid everything but a few nagging injuries here and there, the IceHogs lost another key player this weekend. For how long though, we’re not yet certain.
Jeremy Morin missed Sunday’s loss at Grand Rapids with an undisclosed injury. Not sure of the extent of the damage other than the IceHogs saying Morin was “dinged up.” Morin got the worse end of a third period scrap with Chicago Wolves’ defenseman and higher end Vancouver Canucks prospect Kevin Connauton on Saturday night. Though Morin did make a return for the game’s final moments he was unavailable for Sunday’s road contest with the Griffins. Here is a link to video of the Morin-Connauton fight from Dec 8, Morin’s first fight of the season.
Morin has been held without a point in the last three IceHogs games he’s suited up for. Over his last 15 games, Morin has 7 goals and 2 assists to go along with a minus-2 rating. He’s second on the IceHogs with 9 goals total on the season, one behind team-leader Ben Smith.
–Defenseman Joe Lavin broke his right wrist in a game at Lake Erie on Nov 24th. The injury should sideline Lavin for 5-6 weeks, putting Lavin on schedule to return sometime after Christmas. Lavin was still wearing a cast this weekend.
Last season’s IceHogs’ rookie of the year, Lavin, 23, has struggled to regain his rookie form now in his sophomore professional season. He had put his best string of a few games together at the time of his injury, posting an assist in each of his last three games and going a plus-3 over that same span. This came after being out of the lineup as a healthy scratch in the two games prior.
–Rockford has dealt with some minor injuries already this season.
Brandon Saad missed seven games (Oct 20 – Nov 3) with a leg strain. Saad played the first three games of the season with the ailment before the team decided to sideline him for rest and treatment.
Dylan Olsen has also been hampered by a leg injury that caused him to miss three games (Nov 9 – Nov 14). Olsen has also been designated as a healthy scratch in 6 of the 20 games he’s been available for to this point in the season. Olsen was scratched for Friday and Saturday’s games but returned to the lineup on Sunday in Grand Rapids where he picked up his first point of the season but was also a minus-3 in the IceHogs 4-2 loss which also resulted in Rockford surrendering first-place to the Griffins.
Nick Leddy missed 4 games due to a concussion suffered in an October 25th game versus San Antonio.
Klas Dahlbeck reported to IceHogs training camp with a groin injury he suffered while training in Sweden just a couple weeks prior to leaving for Rockford in September. Dahlbeck was unable to participate in the preseason and didn’t make his North American pro debut until October 20th against Charlotte, the IceHogs’ home opener. Dahlbeck also missed one game (Nov 14 vs Peoria) due to illness. Marcus Kruger also missed the Nov 28th game at Chicago when he was sick.
Adam Clendening also missed a couple games at the beginning of the season with a minor injury incurred during preseason.
–Another Blackhawks prospect with wrist issues is Byron Froese. Currently with the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL, Froese suffered a fracture to his wrist in the first period of a game at Toledo on November 30th. Froese left Toledo to be evaluated by Blackhawks doctors and had a minor surgical procedure which will cause him to miss somewhere between 4-6 weeks.
Froese struggled to find his niche on the IceHogs a season ago. In his last 35 games with the IceHogs, a period from the beginning of January until the end of the 2011-12 season, Froese posted 2 goals and 5 assists to go along with a minus-3 rating. Froese was most effective in a checking line role.
This season with Toledo, Froese has fared much better. In 20 games with the Walleye, Froese has 5 goals and 12 assists. His plus-9 rating is second-best on Toledo. At the time of his injury, Froese was centering one of Toledo’s top-two lines with Terry Broadhurst as one of his wingers.
—Rostislav Olesz, who had surgery on his right knee back in April, is said to be on target and would be available to return to the ice sometime in January should he return to the IceHogs or Chicago Blackhawks whenever the NHL lockout is resolved.
Olesz has this, and next season remaining on his current contract. In real dollars, the value of Olesz’s contract this season is $4.0M while next season he would be owed $4.25 million, under terms of the previous collective bargaining agreement. Because the contract he signed at the end of his entry-level deal while with the Panthers began at a salary of $1.7M and escalated each subsequent season, Olesz’s salary cap hit would sit at $3.125M should the next CBA carry the same total dollars/term criteria as used before.
Olesz injured his right knee on April 1st in Milwaukee, in the latter moments of the first period. It was also the game the IceHogs and Admirals had their infamous line brawl midway through the second period.
For Olesz, it’s the second time in as many seasons he’s had surgery on the right knee. He also had MCL issues in the same knee during the 2005-06 rookie campaign.
The Blackhawks assigned Olesz to Rockford of the American Hockey League on November 17, 2011 after being held scoreless in six games with the NHL club.
In 50 games with the IceHogs, Olesz scored 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. He was also a plus-7 and had a shooting percentage of 11.6%.
–Rockford IceHogs winger Brandon Svendsen, who has been sidelined since training camp with an arm injury, is practicing with the team and should be fit to play this coming weekend or next. Svendsen finished last season with a shoulder injury and then suffered an unrelated injury to his right arm prior to this season.
It’s uncertain right now whether Svendsen will immediately return to the IceHogs lineup, or if he’ll be sent to Toledo first. That may depend on where Rockford’s forward depth chart stands in the health department whenever Svendsen is cleared for action.
Svendsen, a non-drafted player out of Bowling Green, re-signed with the IceHogs under a one-year AHL contract back on June 19th. Last season, prior to joining Rockford for a morning matchup against the Wolves at Allstate Arena last January 11th, Svendsen had a stint with the Binghamton Senators (AHL) but spent the majority of his time with the Kalamazoo Wings. Svendsen was something of an unsung contributor for the IceHogs. He scored 4 goals and 10 assists in 39 games but also proved to be a smart player who could also kill penalties, skate a regular shift on the third line and not look out of place when needed to fill in with a scoring line. How he fits in coming off a long offseason rehabbing back-to-back injuries and with the increased pool of talent flooding AHL rosters remains to be seen.
Winger Philippe Paradis was reassigned to Toledo on December 4th. Paradis had appeared in 14 of Rockford’s 21 games prior to being sent to the Walleye. At first glance, it had appeared Paradis’ re-assignment was perhaps to create room for Svendsen’s return, but according to IceHogs head coach Ted Dent, that was not the case.
In his second season with Rockford, Paradis has been relegated to 4th line duty when he is in the lineup. As noted, he’s been a healthy scratch seven times this season for the IceHogs.
Moving Paradis, who will turn 22 on January 2nd, to Toledo has more to do with getting the former first-round pick (2009, 27th overall, one spot ahead of Blackhawks pick – Dylan Olsen) of the Carolina Hurricanes more ice time. It would also appear to be an avenue for Paradis to improve on his game and prove to the Blackhawks he’s capable of being more than a fourth line energy player. Paradis was rarely used on the penalty kill unit this season. That is also an issue that has plagued Rob Flick’s start, since neither Paradis nor Flick get used on the PK and with the IceHogs finding themselves short-handed a league-leading amount of times thus far, it’s been hard for Dent to find time for his fourth liners. Thus Flick and Paradis are rarely able to get into the rhythm of a game or help create any kind of momentum for their team with their energy and physicalness.