Tag Archives: Mathis Olimb

IceHogs notes: Rockford begins 9 of 10 on the road Monday night in Milwaukee

By Chris Block

I continue to receive questions regarding Kyle Beach’s status.  There is no real update other than he’s out indefinitely with a severe right shoulder injury.   His shoulder was dislocated during a fight with Peoria’s Stefan Della Rovere in Peoria back on October 28.

Beach’s right arm is currently in a harness.  He’s been telling people he’ll be back before the end of the regular season.  I don’t know for sure if that’s accurate, but there is hope he’ll return sometime in March.

Season on the brink

With the loss to Toronto this past Wednesday night, the Rockford IceHogs home record drops to a dismal 6-11-0-0.  They are 3-2-0-0 over their most recent five home games.  One of those wins came via the shootout.

I suppose its good news that 9 of Rockford’s next 10 games are on the road.  Last season’s IceHogs turned their misfortunes around and finished strong (17-5-1-1) beginning with an early March 7-game road trip.

That current stretch of 9 of 10 begins Monday night in Milwaukee where the IceHogs will face off with third-best team percentage wise in the Western Conference.  The Admirals are currently second in the division behind Charlotte, but they’ve also played five fewer games than the Checkers and trail Charlotte by just two points in the standings.

Rockford is now 11-15-1-2 overall.

% Points Earned-wise, the IceHogs are the 2nd-worst team in the AHL (.431).

By Goal Differential, Rockford (-16) ranks 25th out of 30 AHL teams.

They are 6th in Goals Scored per game (3.1)

However, the IceHogs are dead-last in Goals Allowed per game (3.7).  The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, in the other conference and have no like opponents with the Hogs, are the next-worst, allowing 3.4 goals per contest.

The only team in the AHL with a worse record is the Binghamton Senators (11-19-1-1, .375), which is Rob Klinkhammer’s new home. Read more »

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Critical dates, Info on Hawks RFA’s, Qualifying offers, Arbitration eligibles, Buy-Outs and more

Blackhawks 2011 Summer Critical Date Calendar

May 15

Gold & Bronze Medal Games IIHF World Championships in Slovakia.  Marcus Kruger is representing Blackhawks on Team Sweden as is Michael Frolik for the Czech Republic.  Ex-Hawks Andrew Ladd (CAN), Mathis Olimb (Norway), Tuomo Ruutu (Finland), Jack Skille (USA) also involved in playoff elimination round beginning May 11th.  Marian Hossa did play in the tournament but his team, Slovakia, the host country, was eliminated in the qualifying round.

June 15 – 30

League-wide moratorium on new player contracts: Meaning a team cannot re-sign any of their own free agents, restricted or unrestricted, during this period.

Buy-Out Period (June 15-30) *Clubs with salary arbitration cases [July 20 – Aug 4] have a second opportunity to buy-out contracts. Deadline in those cases is 48 hours after the Club’s last salary arbitration award or settlement.

June 24-25

NHL Entry Draft – St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center

June 27

Deadline for clubs to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents.  Qualifying offers must be received by this date.  Players, however, cannot accept those Qualifying Offers officially until July 1.  Players have until July 15th to accept their QO.  Any impending RFA who does not receive a Qualifying Offer can become an unrestricted free agent if their Club also does not opt for Club-Elected arbitration. Read more »

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Crawford talks at Draft; Mike Keenan Roast, Hossa at Worlds

Calgary Sun writer Eric Francis has the scoop on the Corey Crawford negotiations.  In Francis’s Sunday Sun column, he noted Crawford’s agent, Gilles Lupien, said he and the Blackhawks are planning to hold the negotiations face-to-face at the NHL Draft June 24-25 in St. Paul.

“The Chicago Blackhawks have identified rookie goalie Corey Crawford as their top priority to re-sign past next season, and Crawford is amenable to it.  His agent, Gilles Lupien, said they spoke three weeks ago and agreed they’ll hammer out a deal face-to-face at the draft where he’ll table three possible deals ranging from two to four years in length.”

If true, one would wonder why the lack of urgency, specifically on the Blackhawks’ side?  This approach is similar to how Stan Bowman handled the Antti Niemi negotiations.

First off, aside from Cristobal Huet, who the Blackhawks still won’t be able to afford on their cap next season barring a major cap cut, the Blackhawks don’t have a single goaltender under contract currently for next season.

Marty Turco is an unrestricted free agent and a possible return is very much in doubt.  Hannu Toivonen is a UFA but if he returns it will be to start in Rockford.  Alexander Salak, the 24 year old Czech acquired in February from the Panthers along with Michael Frolik, is a restricted free agent.  Salak has never played in the NHL and while he ranked as one of the best netminders in Sweden this year, he was an average goaltender in Rochester (AHL) in 2009-10 and the arrival of Jacob Markstrom chased Salak back to Europe.  While Salak’s resume is not too different from Crawford’s pre 2010-11, he’s still unproven and if the Hawks are aiming to be Cup contenders next year, would they really put themselves in a position to have an unproven commodity within an injury of pinning their season on Salak?  Sure, they got lucky with Niemi and Crawford was phenomenal this year despite never asserting himself in five minor league seasons prior to getting his chance.  Going to that well three consecutive years though may not be the smartest thing to do. Read more »

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Mathis Olimb signs with Frolunda, Swedish Elite League: Kyle Hagel moves on as well


It appears Norwegian prospect Mathis Olimb‘s stay in the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization will be a short one.

On Friday, Olimb signed a two-year contract with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien).  Olimb was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1, having completed the one-year agreement he signed with the Blackhawks back on June 17, 2010.

Olimb returns to Frolunda after having spent the 2009-10 season with the Indians.  In 55 games with Frolunda in ’09-10, Olimb collected 9 goals and 34 points and another goal and four points in seven postseason contests.  Collectively, Olimb was a +1 performer in those 62 games.

After nearly two months on the sidelines in recovering from off season shoulder surgery, Mathis Olimb amassed 10 goals and 22 assists in 59 games as a Rockford IceHog.  Olimb was also a plus-8 and finished with a respectable, yet unspectacular 9.62% shooting percentage.

At five-foot ten and 175 pounds, Olimb figured as a long-shot to be re-signed by the Blackhawks.  At 25, he doesn’t have too much room left to grow and for his size, he doesn’t figure into the score sheet enough to expend a spot on the 50-man roster.

Other notable players with North American experience, signed to Frolunda for 2011-12 are Joel Lundqvist (Dallas Stars), PJ Axelsson (Boston Bruins) and Christian Backman (Blues, Rangers, Blue Jackets).

Olimb is currently playing in the IIHF World Championship tournament as a member of Team Norway.  His younger brother Ken-Andre Olimb is also competing for Norway.

KYLE HAGEL MOVES ON

In news shared with us by Mike Peck on our TTMI podcast Monday night, Kyle Hagel, the gritty Princeton University graduate who spent 2010-11 with the IceHogs on an AHL-contract, signed a two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues over the weekend.

In some respects, Hagel was the heart and soul of the Rockford IceHogs this past season.  His effort and passion both on and off the ice made him a favorite in many fans, teammates and scout’s eyes.

Hagel posted 5 goals and 8 assists (-11 plus/minus) in 77 games with the IceHogs.  But those numbers come in primarily fourth line duty.  Towards the end of the season Hagel moved up to the third line.  He’s versatile enough to play both center and the wing.  Hagel’s 245 penalty minutes ranked 5th in the AHL and second among AHL rookies.  His 31 regular season fights led the IceHogs’ team by a wide margin and ranked amongst the top in the American League.  Hagel had come into his own by the end of the season on a line with Evan Brophey and Igor Makarov, which was a key energy unit and focal point in the IceHogs’ late season turnaround.

The loss leaves Rockford with Brandon Bollig as the prime candidate to fill Hagel’s roll.  Bollig himself had a hard time getting into the line up in 2010-11, primarily due to Hagel’s performance, but also because Bollig didn’t show much offensively and took a lot of bad penalties when he did get into the lineup.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Injured IceHogs advance season-long win streak; Jimmy Hayes debuts

Hours after the Chicago Blackhawks and NHL office made his first professional hockey contract official, Jimmy Hayes got his first experience in the pro ranks for the Rockford IceHogs.

Under the guise of an amateur-try out contract, Hayes made his debut in Cleveland on Wednesday night as the IceHogs took on the Lake Erie Monsters.  Hayes’ entry-level pro contract with the Hawks kicks in on July 1st.

Hayes acquitted himself quite well in his unofficial pro debut.  He exhibited nice hands, decent wheels and didn’t seem too out of place all things considered.  The adjustment from college to the pro-pace wasn’t too much of a factor, at least in Lake Erie.  Oklahoma City on Friday poses a different challenge.

On his first shift, skating with Mathis Olimb and Ben Smith on the Hogs’ second-line Hayes showed good strides in transition leading a Hogs’ odd-man rush up the right side boards.  Hayes strung a slick pass just an inch or two further than Olimb could handle though, coming down just left of the slot and they didn’t get a scoring chance there.

In the middle period, Hayes again led a rush, but it also amounted to nothing.  Hayes was carrying the lead with Olimb and Andy Bohmbach on a 3-on-2, but Hayes lost the handle as he strode through the right circle.  He finished the game with three shots.  He’s not shy on the body but it appears he prefers to use his stick and he’ll have to shake that too much finesse with his head down college habit.  So its great for the Hawks, and IceHogs, Hayes is able to join up for some valuable minutes before an all-important off season.

Before the game Bill Peters noted he plans to dress Hayes in all seven (Wednesday included) of the IceHogs remaining games.  Peters was down six regulars (add another if you count Jeremy Morin) on Wednesday, so Hayes saw as much or more ice time as he figures to get in any single outing over the final two weeks of the season. Read more »

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IceHogs mid-season swoon in detail, Morin injury update, stats and more

Rockford continues its busiest week of the season tonight when they bus to Rosemont, Illinois for the 7th of 10 matchups this season with the Chicago Wolves.  The two teams have split the games even so far.

As a team, the IceHogs have been nothing short of awful of late.

Rockford has lost 13 of their last 15 games (2-11-2-0).  Seven of those losses have come on home ice.  When this recent stretch of losses began back on January 21st, Rockford was three games above the .500 mark (19-16-1-4) having won seven of ten.

Today, the IceHogs (21-27-3-4) are deeply trenched in last place in the West division, trailing 7th place Chicago by 15 points.  With only 25 games left in the regular season, the IceHogs would essentially have to run the table now in order to grab a spot in the postseason.  Just two teams in the league (Adirondack and Bridgeport) hold fewer wins than Rockford.

The chief culprit in this recent swoon has been some inexplicable poor starts.

Dating back to Jan 21st, Rockford is being outscored 27-11 in the opening period.  It gets a little better in the middle stanza (10gf-15ga) while the 3rd period rings dead-even (14-14).

On five occasions in the last 15 starts, Rockford has trailed by two or more goals after the opening twenty minutes.  Three times, they trailed by three or more.  On Feb 13 at Milwaukee, the IceHogs trailed after the first period 5-1.

While the goaltending of Alec Richards and Hannu Toivonen has been less than adequate at times over the downturn, Rockford’s defense has largely been to blame. Read more »

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Interview with Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach

Kyle Beach takes shot Jan 2nd @ OKC

 
Recently I sat down with highly touted, and debated, Hawks prospect Kyle Beach to discuss his progress during his 1st pro season, mending fences with teammate Mathis Olimb and how he responds to his critics (which admittedly, we’ve been one).  The following are excerpts from that interview.

To date, Beach has posted 13 goals and 29 points in 52 games.  Beach does own an IceHogs’ worst minus-17 plus/minus rating. He’s been on the ice for a staggering 30 of 68 even strength goals scored against (44%) on home ice and 40 of 109 (37%) even strength goals scored against Rockford overall.  As mentioned below, he’s been benched on occasion as well as designated a healthy scratch by head coach Bill Peters twice, and as recently as eleven days ago.  The IceHogs have lost 12 of their last 14 games. Beach has 4 goals, 4 assists (-10) in that stretch. When we spoke with him, he was enjoying a season-best stretch of 4 goals, 5 assists over 8 games.

Chris Block:  Halfway through your first pro year, what’s different for you now as opposed to earlier in the season?

Kyle Beach:  I think its just getting used to the play. Getting used to the bigger bodies.  Getting used to having to use your strength; use your size and learn how to protect the puck.  I mean, coming into this level from junior, I mean, I was one of the older guys last year.  I was always one of the bigger guys and now I’m average.  And you gotta learn the little tricks of the trade.  And now pucks are starting to my way, bounces are starting to go my way.  You know, fortunately I’ve been able to go on a little bit of a run here. Read more »

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Allen, Peoria Slam IceHogs 5-0

Bill Peters’ search for answers has so far turned up dry.

After watching his team come out flat inexplicably for fifth time in this season’s first nine home games, the Rockford head coach retreated to his bench on Saturday night exasperated for the third period.

By my count, Peters used at least twelve different line combinations over the final twenty minutes.  It was orchestrated chaos and Peters’ team responded with its best period of the night, but that wasn’t even enough to get on the scoreboard.

Rockford outshot Peoria 12-6 in the third and 31-21 in the game but Peoria won the only count that matters, defeating IceHogs by a score of 5-0 at the MetroCentre.

In the win, Peoria rookie Jake Allen set a Rivermen AHL (2005-current) franchise record for shutouts in a single season by white-washing the Rockford shooters 31 times, to post his 4th shutout in just 8 starts.  The previous Peoria shutout record (3) was set by Manny Legace during the 2008-09 season.

Saturday’s was a team shutout.  Allen was very good and made some great stops locating pucks through screens and one-on-one challenges.  But his defense also cleared a lot of rebounds and beat the IceHogs to most of the loose pucks in the Peoria zone.

The latter point was the story of the night.  Rockford could not match Peoria’s intensity from the initial puck drop through to the final horn.  A few players tried and succeeded in spurts.  Garnet Exelby showed some snarl late in the first, but the score was already 3-0 by then.  Kyle Beach had his best, most physical shift in weeks with five minutes to go in the middle period.  Jeremy Morin stood up to Peoria defenders on occasion one night after getting into a spirited fight with Red Wings’ defensive prospect Brendan Smith. Read more »

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Garnet Exelby now officially Blackhawk, Hawks Vegas details emerge, IceHogs, Mora story and more

[Update] Corey Crawford is starting in goal for the Hawks today at Anaheim. (Twitter.com/ChrisKuc)

Defenseman Garnet Exelby agreed to a two-way (NHL/AHL) contract with the Blackhawks yesterday.  As a necessary procedural thing, the Blackhawks then had to place Exelby on 24-hour waivers.  Once Exelby passes through his contract then becomes official.  If another team were to claim Exelby by 11am today, that team would then assume his new contract.

According to a CapGeek.com report this morning, Exelby’s contract is valued at the league-minimum $500,000 at the NHL level, and $105,000 in the AHL.

Exelby, 29, signed a professional tryout contract with the Rockford IceHogs on October 8th and was named team captain twenty-eight days later.

While a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization last season, Exelby appeared in 51 games with the Leafs, registering 1 goal and 3 assists.  He was then in the final year of a three-year contract that paid him $1.725M.

This season, Exelby has appeared in 18 of the IceHogs 19 games (only missing the team’s opener the day after he signed).  So far Exelby has no points and owns a minus-4 overall plus/minus rating.

Exelby is a physical, stay-at-home defenseman.  He’s not the fleetest of foot but he gets to where he needs to be and typically plays within his known limitations.  Exelby is a part of Rockford’s go-to crew of penalty killers and is almost never used on the power play. Read more »

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