Rockford IceHogs roster already starting to take shape for 2019-20 season

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The Rockford IceHogs roster is already starting to take shape for the 2019-20 season. Derek King was locked up as the head coach on April 25, as was assistant coach Anders Sorensen.

And the roster moves are beginning to follow.

In the past few days, the IceHogs announced that they have inked goaltender Chase Marchand and forwards Nick Moutrey and Mathew Thompson to one-year AHL contracts. 

Marchand, who's the cousin of Bruins winger Brad Marchand, spent three seasons at St. Francis Xavier University, where he went 34-23-0 with a 2.67 goals against average and .916 save percentage in 60 appearances. The 23-year-old netminder also had a .930 save percentage in 10 playoff games this past season, showing flashes of his sophomore campaign when he was named the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) most valuable player, goaltender of the year and to the first All-Star team.

Moutrey, 23, has spent the last four seasons in the AHL with Lake Erie, Cleveland and Rockford. He also had a brief stint in the ECHL with the Manchester Monarchs before getting loaned to the IceHogs, where he had five points (one goal, four assists) in 49 games. He's expected to take on a larger role next season.

Thompson was one of the bright spots for the Indy Fuel this past season. He ranked third on the team with 50 points and was one of four players to score at least 20 goals. Turning 26 in October, the Blackhawks are ready to see if his game can translate to the next level professionally.

Other notable decisions:

— Nicolas Beaudin, who was taken in the first round, 27th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, is expected to turn pro after four seasons in the QMJHL. He's likely to start the season in Rockford if he doesn't make the Blackhawks out of training camp.

— Evan Barratt will reportedly return to Penn State for his junior season, joining Ian Mitchell, who already announced that he will be going back to Denver for his junior year.

— Brandon Hagel, Reese Johnson and Philipp Kurashev all joined the IceHogs for the stretch run this spring and are likely to be in the mix next season. Hagel's entry-level contract started this season while Johnson's and Kurashev's will kick in next season.

— Jacob Nilsson signed a one-year contract extension to remain in the Blackhawks organization. He was named IceHogs MVP at the end of the season.

— MacKenzie Entwistle has spent the past five seasons in the OHL and averaged a point per game this season for the first time. He's also been a big reason why the Guelph Storm have had a deep playoff run. His entry-level contract will start next season, and the Blackhawks may want him in Rockford after proving himself in the OHL.

Contract situations:

— Forwards Peter Holland, Andreas Martinsen, Jordan Schroeder and Tyler Sikura and defensemen Andrew Campbell and Brandon Davidson are unrestricted free agents. Given the influx of talent, there may not be room for any of them to re-sign.

— Forwards Victor Ejdsell, Luke Johnson, Anthony Louis, Dylan Sikura and Spencer Watson and defenseman Blake Hillman and goaltender Anton Forsberg are restricted free agents.

The big question mark in this group is what happens to Forsberg. With Collin Delia expected to be the backup to Corey Crawford on the Blackhawks next season and the IceHogs perhaps wanting to give Kevin Lankinen more starts, both sides could be looking for a fresh start — although Forsberg had a solid season in Rockford and goaltending depth is crucial in today's NHL.

— And then we have the rest who are already under contract, along with the players mentioned above: Forwards Alexandre Fortin, Matthew Highmore, Graham Knott Nathan Noel and defensemen Adam Boqvist, Lucas Carlsson, Dennis Gilbert, Henri Jokiharju, Chad Krys and Joni Tuulola and goaltender Kevin Lankinen.

If Boqvist doesn't make the Blackhawks out of camp, he's expected to return to the London Knights. The expectation is that Jokiharju will be a full-time NHLer next season.

One thing is for sure: The IceHogs are getting significant reinforcements in 2019-20. And that will make competition far more interesting with a handful of higher end prospects under the same roof and under more developmental control by the Blackhawks.

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