The ‘Hawks excel in scoring

By Sam Bauman

The Chicago Blackhawks are this year’s best NHL team, at least point-wise.

Led by star players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks have the talent to win. But perhaps the best thing about the Blackhawks is they have the minor-league talent to have continued success in the future.

On the defensive side the Blackhawks have an AHL all-star in Adam Clendening. Clendening’s 46 points this season put him fourth on the team, which is an impressive feat for a defenseman. Perhaps more impressive is his plus-17 when he’s on the ice. That number shows the Rockford IceHogs scored 17 more goals with Clendening on the ice than they gave up. This signifies both an offensive and defensive contribution from Clendening, something the Blackhawks build their defense around.

Moving to the offensive side the Blackhawks have left winger Jeremy Morin. If Morin sounds familiar it’s because he has seen a few games this season when Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were injured. Morin was the IceHog’s leading goal scorer, tallying 30 goals over 67 games this season. The 22-year-old player was drafted in the second round, but he has had time to develop in the minors because of the depth and talent the Blackhawks have at winger. Morin is a player to watch as players like Hossa and Sharp continue to age.

Also bolstering impressive offensive numbers this season is center Brandon Pirri. Pirri claimed the AHL scoring title this season by scoring 22 goals and 53 assists, totaling 75 points over the 76-game season. Most impressive was his play over the last nine games of the season. With the Ice Hogs fighting to make the AHL Playoffs, Pirri tallied 19 points over the last nine games. His impressive offensive numbers are backed by his plus-11. Pirri fits the Toews model of a center for the Blackhawks. He shows skill scoring, especially in assists, but can also be a two-way player the Blackhawks are known for.

In addition to the talent already in the system the Blackhawks also signed the Hobey Baker award winner Drew LeBlanc. The Hobey Baker award goes to the player judged to be the most outstanding player in NCAA Hockey. LeBlanc tallied 50 points (13 goals and 37 assists) in 42 games this season. He also led his team, the St. Cloud State Huskies, to their first Frozen Four in team history. The signing of another proven player, especially one with a winning history bodes well for the Blackhawks in the future.

The Blackhawks have a strong roster now, but the minor league talent the team boasts will ensure the continued success of the team. With players like Clendening, Morin, Pirri and LeBlanc the Blackhawks have ensured themselves the ability to be a presence in the NHL for years to come.