Rockford carousel delivers 2 more rookies

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
9:46
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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PHILADELPHIA -- The rotating carousel of Rockford IceHogs playing for the Chicago Blackhawks continued when the parent club called up rookies Dylan Olsen and Andrew Shaw on Wednesday. They join “veteran” -- of three games -- Jimmy Hayes as three first-year players who are expected to take the ice Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

First-round pick Olsen was due for a call-up and fits the pattern the Hawks have employed with top-rated prospects on their blue-line. Both Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy were called up mid-season their rookie years and stuck with the team. It’s not clear if Olsen has that chance but his play will undoubtedly help determine it.

“It’s a tough position to crack right off the bat,” Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t know if its [mid-season call-up] by design, but we knew in training camp we liked what we saw, and we think his upside is in the right spot. It’s a matter of opportunity.”

So though the Hawks have two other healthy defensemen who can play for the ailing Steve Montador, Quenneville is giving the rookie a chance next to veteran Sean O’Donnell on Thursday. John Scott and Sami Lepisto were on the ice for a key goal against in the loss to Edmonton on Monday so Olsen gets his chance.

“[I’m] a hard-nosed defenseman that can shut down the other teams top lines and take the body and make good plays,” Olsen said after his first practice with his team Wednesday. “I like the physical part of the game. If I have to be a little bit of a (expletive) out there, I have no problem doing it.”

Olsen likes getting under the skin of his opponents as does Shaw. Fifth-round picks from the most recent draft don’t usually get a chance to play that next year in the NHL, but Shaw is expected in the spotlight on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp.

“It’s going to be a war [Thursday],” Shaw said. “I’m pretty excited for that. Just want the game to start.”

Shaw has a quirky edge to him and in an ironic twist he has many similarities to the guy he’s replacing, Daniel Carcillo.

“He gives us a little personality,” Quenneville said. “He’s a comparable player [to Carcillo].”

Shaw’s role will be the same as Carcillo’s: create some space and retrieve the puck for Toews and Sharp, then go to the net.

“I play hard, physical, get under the skin of the opponent,” he said. “Just go to the net and try to put in greasy ones.”

General manager Stan Bowman isn’t exactly holding a press conference telling the world his prospects are on display as trade bait, but there is little doubt the Hawks are rotating their minor league players through Chicago, in part, for that very reason. Or to see who can play in case they trade a veteran.

Ben Smith, Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri and now Hayes, Shaw and Olsen have all spent time time with the Hawks. Not all are trade bait, but there is little doubt a run with an NHL club gives scouts more to look at than games in the minors.

The lines: With the new addition as well as Patrick Kane’s recent struggles, the Hawks had two new forward lines at practice Wednesday.

Toews, Sharp and Shaw will make up the top line while Kane remains at center with Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg next to him. Its unclear if Andrew Brunette or Michael Frolik will play on the third line, but the normal configuration of centers Dave Bolland and Jamal Mayers along with Bryan Bickell and Hayes ran drills together as bottom six forwards.

And this comes one day after Quenneville changed up his power-play personnel. Expect all changes to take place for Thursday’s game.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26