Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Prospects That Could Provide a Spark

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIFebruary 17, 2012

Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Prospects That Could Provide a Spark

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    It's been very hard to watch the Chicago Blackhawks lately.

    Thursday's win over the Rangers was nice, but it still gave them three points out of a possible 20 in the last 10 games.

    The Blackhawks are currently holding on to the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, but are only four points ahead of the ninth place Calgary Flames.

    With the trade deadline just a little over a week away and the Hawks already missing out on two veteran defensemen, what if they are unable to make a move?

    Well here are some prospects they have down on the farm in Rockford who are ready to come up and help provide a spark.

    Since Dylan Olsen has been up with the club for the last few games, he is not included in the list, but he would have been if he weren’t currently with the team.

Jimmy Hayes

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    Not only is Jimmy Hayes the first guy on my list, he was the first guy the Blackhawks thought of as well.

    Hayes was recalled from AHL Rockford on Friday. To make room for Hayes, they sent down fellow rookie Andrew Shaw.

    During his 13 games up with the Hawks this season, he's tallied four goals and three assists and was a minus-one.

    Hayes was pretty successful on the fourth line earlier in the season with Jamal Mayers and Michael Frolik, and it is probably where we will see him. There is also a chance they could give him some time on the power play.

    I don't know about you, but if they are going to put a big body in front of the net, I'd rather have Hayes there than John Scott.

Alexander Salak

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    There has been a lot of talk about the goalie situation in Chicago, and before last week there didn't look to be much help down in Rockford.

    That was until Alexander Salak returned from injury.

    Salak has struggled with some personal issues as well as a few injuries that have limited him to only 15 games this season for the Icehogs.

    Three of those games have come in the last week.

    In the last week he has started two games and entered a third in relief. He is 1-1 and has stopped all but two of the 56 shots he has faced. That is a save percentage of over 960.

    For those of you who don't remember, Salak seemed to be the front-runner for the backup goalie spot that eventually went to Ray Emery. Based on preseason play it appeared that it was Salak's job, but the team chose Emery instead.

    If a trade isn't made and both Corey Crawford and Emery continue to struggle, don't be surprised if we see Salak between the pipes before too long.

Ben Smith

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    Ben Smith came up for the final six games of last season before impressing in the playoffs with three goals in seven games. A goal in January brought his career regular-season totals to the same place.

    Funny thing is, he has played in almost three times as many regular season games as postseason ones.

    Smith has done pretty well down in Rockford, tallying 27 points in 30 games. He is third on the team with 14 goals, which is pretty good considering he started the season hurt and has since had a few stints with the Hawks this season.

    I am actually surprised that Hayes was recalled instead of Smith. Maybe he needs to ditch the new 28 and go back to the old 57 that he wore last season.

Jeremy Morin

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    Jeremy Morin seems to be going through a Patrick Kane type season.

    For the Icehogs this season, he has nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 45 games. Not really what I expected from the guy we traded Ben Eager and Dustin Byfuglien for.

    Morin is going through a bit of an identify crisis down in Rockford. Instead of being the scorer everyone believes he is capable of being, he is trying to be a hard hitter and is playing on the edge.

    His 93 penalty minutes are second only to Brandon Bollig's 154. That may not last for long with Andrew Shaw returning, who had 80 penalty minutes in only 33 games.

    During his last season in juniors, he scored 47 goals in 58 games and, before suffering a concussion last season, had scored eight goals in 22 games.

    If Morin finds his scoring touch he may find himself opposite Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa in April.

Brandon Pirri

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    Everyone says the Blackhawks need a second-line center. Well, there is a good chance they already have one, and he played in the AHL All-Star game this season.

    Brandon Pirri actually made the opening day roster for the Hawks but after one game was sent down while Marcus Kruger was called up.

    He has been up with the Hawks for a total of five games this season and has tallied two assists. 

    Down in Rockford, Pirri has been on fire. In 49 games he has 19 goals and 26 assists for a total of 45 points. He is a plus-11 on the season and has scored seven power-play goals.

    If Stan Bowman fails to acquire Derek Roy or a proven center, Pirri may get his chance. What do they have to lose?

    Make sure to follow me on Twitter @dachicagofan, and check out my weekly Hawks podcast every Friday on my site The MG Experience.