Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has made it clear that the Blackhawks’ active roster going forward will have eight defensemen. Bowman also added that he wants to have ten or so NHL ready defenseman including the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.
Bowman has come closer to his goal earlier today when the Blackhawks signed Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) defense man Dillon Fournier to a three-year entry-level contract. Fourier was the No. 48 overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry level draft after being named to the Canadian Hockey League’s Top Prospects game in 2011-12.
Fournier has 32 points through 36 games this season, improving on his 108 points in 207 junior games. Another left-handed offensive defenseman, Blackhawks director of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told ESPN:
“Fournier really excites me. He has good size and he’s really, really comfortable with the puck. He plays an aggressive-type gap style. I wouldn’t say he’s a big physical guy but he competes hard and battles hard.”
Fournier finds himself mired within the Blackhawks’ system, but he is young. Now 19, he ranks as the Blackhawks’ best defenseman in the CHL system, per hockeysfuture.com. Another advantage he has is that he could be reunited with Mathieu Brisebois once he enters Rockford. That combination was pivotal in creating the best season in Rouyn-Noranda Huskies history.
Injuries have delayed Fournier’s development ever so slightly, but he will likely find a home in Rockford if not next year, shortly thereafter. Hockey’s Future specified that Fournier is an every role defenseman, something that can only benefit him going forward amidst a talent pool that features defensemen of larger size (Stephen Johns), speed (David Rundblad) and skating (Adam Clendening). Finding a niche that impresses coaching, coupled with some roster moves in the future, may be his lone hope to translate to the next level.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486