Of course everyone knows by now Marian Hossa is out for the next couple of weeks with an upper body injury. Call us incredibly timely or an incredible jinx, either way the following is what we wrote for Wednesday’s ‘Committed Indian’.
After the Great Cap Purge of 2010, the Blackhawks have found themselves with something they haven’t had for a couple years: a decent farm system. While we’ll all look fondly on the days when we could prognosticate about the futures of Bryan Bickell and Simon Danis-Pepin, the cupboard is certainly more stocked than it was just last season.
Most of these youngsters you have probably seen in the past couple months but we know it can be difficult to remember which young player is which. So we’re here to help you with a little Michael Scott sales trick: we’ve designated each young prospect with a mobster movie that best describes him and/or his future.
Nick Leddy = ‘The Godfather’: No, Nick Leddy isn’t sitting in a Rockford apartment petting his cat and doing favors for people. But it’s going to take an offer Stan Bowman simply can’t refuse to let Leddy out of his sight. As Bowman’s first major acquisition as general manager, Leddy has been put on the fast track to whatever NHL success lay ahead of him. Hopefully, the Hawks won’t need him the rest of this year, because if he plays in four more NHL games, the Hawks will burn a year off his rookie contract. If that happens, we’re going to be like Johnny Fontane crying on our Godfather’s shoulders.
Jeremy Morin = ‘The Godfather II’: If Leddy is Stan Bowman’s little baby, then Morin is Joel Quenneville’s. For those same reasons, you better believe Morin is not leaving this organization anytime soon. A solid argument can be made that if it weren’t for Brian Campbell’s pre-season injury, Morin would have opened the season with the Hawks. As of print, Morin has three goals and an assist in six games for the Rockford IceHogs. He was injured in last Saturday’s game, but assuming he’s healthy, his stay in Rockford won’t be very long, and he should be a Blackhawk shortly.
Kyle Beach = ‘A History of Violence’: In the same way Tom Stall was unable to hide from his mafia-hitman past, Kyle Beach simply cannot escape his reputation for trouble. Even if Beach played with the kindness of a choirboy, he’d still be good for a penalty a game. So far in Rockford, Beach has been guilty of being Kyle Beach more so than actual infractions. In just seven games, he’s already accumulated 17 penalty minutes, and a couple of his penalties wouldn’t have been called if his name was Ryan Potulny – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Beach started the year skating with AHL veterans Rob Klinkhammer and Evan Brophey. He has one goal and two assists.
Igor Makarov = ‘Eastern Promises’: Russian players and the Blackhawks have historically gone together as well as vodka and apple juice; that’s why so many people were intrigued by Makarov’s prospects this past training camp. While he was terrific in intra-squad scrimmages, Makarov didn’t impress nearly as much against other competition. His defensive zone awareness and decision-making skills are still incredibly raw, thanks to two seasons as a teenager in the KHL, a league that treats youngsters like Michael Vick treats beagles. He played his best game for Rockford last week against the Wolves and has been getting better with each game so far. Let’s just hope he doesn’t enjoy naked knife-fighting like Nikolai Luzhin.
Shawn Lalonde, Ivan Vishnevskiy = ‘Goodfellas’: Remember the first time you watched Goodfellas and amidst the tension between every character, you had no idea who was going to get whacked next? That’s probably how IceHog defensive partners, Lalonde and Vishnevskiy, will start to feel the closer we get to the trade deadline. Lalonde was a Dale Tallon draft pick and even though he’s off to a good start in Rockford, his future with the Hawks is murky at best. Nick Leddy is already ahead of him on the depth chart and once Dylan Olsen signs a rookie contract, Lalonde will be behind him too. All you need to know about Vishnevskiy is that he is a defenseman with NHL experience and one of the first players cut this training camp.
Brandon Pirri = ‘Casino’: From the time he was 17-years-old, Brandon Pirri has gambled at every step of his career. Rather than playing in the higher profile Canadian Hockey League, Pirri chose to play in the Tier II Canadian junior league to put up better numbers and get noticed by professional scouts. The move worked as the Hawks spent their 2009 second round pick on him. Then after a freshman year at RPI where he was second on the team in scoring, Pirri left to sign a rookie contract with the Hawks, even though there weren’t a whole lot of people advocating his move to the pros. So far, Pirri has been a very pleasant surprise. He is Rockford’s second line center and has a goal and three assists in six games. With the Hawks lacking depth at center, Pirri has become one of their more important prospects.
Ben Smith = ‘Donnie Brasco’: Donnie Brasco infiltrated the mob with years of undercover work where he transformed himself from a college educated law officer into a street-smart thug. This season, Ben Smith has infiltrated the Blackhawks organization as a college winger impersonating himself as a professional center. And so far, it’s hard to really find a complaint with his game. Smith has a goal and three assists in seven games; he’s playing in all situations for the IceHogs; and while he won’t break into the NHL as a center, the positional flexibility he’s displaying will only help his chances as he looks to become an NHL player.
Dylan Olsen = ‘The Untouchables’: While Olsen is still toiling away in the NCAA – not on the ‘Nick Leddy Fast Track’ – it’s hard to imagine the Hawks foolishly giving away this prized jewel of the farm system. Olsen is big and strong with a booming slap shot – the prototypical defenseman NHL general managers fantasize about. Just ask Mike Keenan. In six games so far for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Olsen has nearly half as many points as he had last year in 36 games. It’s still a bit curious why Hawks’ brass felt Nick Leddy was ready for professional hockey and the more physically mature Olsen wasn’t.
Kevin and Jimmy Hayes = ‘The Departed’: The first two acts of this instant classic play like a modern-day Cain and Abel saga set in Boston. Who better in the Hawks pipeline to represent it other than the two brothers playing together at Boston College? Kevin was selected with the 24th pick in last summer’s draft, a pick that was acquired in the Dustin Byfuglien package, and has a goal and assist in his rookie season. Jimmy was acquired from the Maple Leafs in exchange for one of the Hawks myriad second round picks. They are massive human beings – both over 6’3” and 200 pounds. The good news is that neither of them show any signs of being snitches.
Hey, ever since we can remember, we always wanted to be gangsters.