Review: 2015-16 Rockford IceHogs

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Smart drafting and quality development are the two key reasons why the Chicago Blackhawks have been successful over the past half-decade. Many of the prospects that the ‘Hawks draft end up playing a season or two with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, blossoming into NHL players. This year, the IceHogs released a new set of trading cards, which includes many players who may go on to become the newest ‘Hawks mainstays.

Every year since they joined the AHL, the IceHogs have either given away or sold in their team shop a trading card team set. And historically, the IceHogs do a great job, including practically every player and listing all of their statistics, while dressing it up in an appealing design. This year is no exception.

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Bryan Bickell, who has been up-and-down this season, has a card in this year’s IceHogs team set.

Player Selection (5 out of 5)
Like any good minor league team set, this year’s IceHogs team set includes almost everyone. There are 30 different player cards, one card of head coach Ted Dent, and a team logo card for a total of 32 cards.

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Front Design (4 out of 5)
The borders of this year’s set are gold because why not? Besides, the team can’t use red and black borders every year; that would get old quick. Each player’s name and number boldly runs up the left-side of the card, while the photos are “cut” with a rounded top and bottom edge. This makes the design less square-ish, which is always a challenge on a rectangular item.

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Stats & Info / Back Design (5 out of 5)
The IceHogs always do an impressive job of including as much statistics as possible on their hockey cards. Even Michael Leighton, who has played 14 professional seasons, has all of his his NHL, AHL, KHL and even OHL stats on the back of his card. That’s 26 lines of stats — one for each team, including the four different squads he suited up for in 2006-07. While corners were rounded in the design, no corners were cut when it came to information.

The back of Michael Leighton's card includes all of his stats -- including that one game for Nashville when he played for 20 minutes.
The back of Michael Leighton’s card includes all of his stats — including that one game for Nashville when he played for 20 minutes.

Also on the back of each card is the player’s height, weight, birth date, place of birth and a fact about them. For example, Leighton’s card, somewhat unflatteringly, notes that he was the losing goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers when the Blackhawks beat them in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010.

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Note
The 2015-16 Rockford IceHogs team set was given to the first 2,500 fans who attended the IceHogs game against the Milwaukee Admirals on January 3, 2016.

Rating 4 out of 5

Minor league team sets aren’t for everyone. If you like the IceHogs or the Blackhawks, then you will want this in your collection. If you collect NHL prospects, the 2015-16 IceHogs team set might also be worth seeking out.

BONUS
Six players who will most likely become NHL regulars.

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Vince Hinostroza – After a slow start with the IceHogs, Hinostroza has become one of the top scorers on the team. He was called up by the Blackhawks twice this season (interview with him here) and should  become a regular in Chicago soon. (back)

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Marko Dano – Dano, whose father played on a forward line with Marian Hossa on the Slovakian National Team, was considered the Chicago Blackhawks’ top prospect until his trade to the Winnipeg Jets. He’s already stepped into the Jets’ lineup. (back)

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Brandon Mashinter – “Mash” had previously played 13 games with the San Jose Sharks and another 10 with the New York Rangers, but finally cracked the Blackhawks lineup, appearing in 36 games for the ‘Hawks so far this year. (back)

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Viktor Svedberg – At 6’8″, Svedberg has the size to be an effective d-man in the NHL. He played 19 games for the Blackhawks earlier this year. (back)

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Dennis Rasmussen – The 6’3″ Swede has spent most of the season with the Blackhawks this year. During the 2013-14 season, Rasmussen led his team in Sweden in scoring. (back)

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Kyle Baun – While playing college hockey, Baun was named to the ECAC’s All-Rookie Team in 2013, the All-Academic Team in 2013 and 2014, and the Third All-Star Team in 2015. He was called up by the Blackhawks earlier this year. (back

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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