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With the depth that the Blackhawks added during the offseason, there are a few younger players who fans will see with less regularity in 2011-2012. This is a good thing as some of them need development in the AHL, but it does not necessarily mean that you will not see a young player step up to the plate and have a solid season.
Many are hopeful that Ben Smith will be a mainstay following his playoff performance in 2011. In reality, Smith has limited overall skill, and the Hawks have added depth at wing. You will most likely see him spending more time in Rockford.
My money is on Marcus Kruger. Kruger was thrust into the Hawks lineup and managed a mere seven games and played in five postseason contests. He is undersized and needs to get stronger, but he plays the center ice position extremely well, is solid in his own zone and is excellent at moving a puck through neutral ice.
There is a possibility that Dave Bolland will get dinged up at some point of the season, Jamal Mayers could be inconsistent or the Hawks will decide to move Sharp back to the wing. If and when this does happen Kruger will get the opportunity to join the lineup, perhaps on a regular basis.
Though he may start his season in Rockford (and rightly so), at the end of 2011-2012 Kruger may log as many as 50 games or more and could be solid down the stretch.