The Rockford IceHogs continue to make interesting moves in this offseason. They just announced they have signed forward Tommy Olczyk and goaltender Matt Tomkins to one-year, AHL contracts for the 2017-18 season.
Olczyk, 26, is the son of former NHL forward and current analyst Ed Olczyk. He played 4 seasons with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL and 4 seasons at Penn State University. He also attended training camp with the IceHogs, before spending the 2016-17 season with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. All told, in 381 games, he has tallied 58 goals and 59 assists for 117 points. He also amassed 142 penalty minutes.
Tompkins, 23, played two seasons with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL and 4 seasons at Ohio State University. In 134 total games, he picked up 68 wins against 51 losses, with 15 ties and had a .896 save percentage. Last season, he went 12-5 with a 2.48 GAA and .909 save percentage in 22 games. In the Big 10, he ranked third in wins and fourth in GAA. Also of note, the Blackhawks originally selected him in the seventh round (199th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
The Olczyk move is interesting because it has been more common for the Chicago Wolves to sign players with Chicago connections. Certainly the Olczyk name has some drawing power, but the signing is more than nostalgia. The younger Olczyk is a hard-working, intelligent player. Named captain at Penn State, he states that he loves to kill penalties, block shots and do the little things in games. For a Rockford team that lacked “something” last season, Olczyk should be a welcome addition.
Tompkins figures to be in the mix for playing time in net, a place that saw 6 goalies get playing time. With Jeff Glass potentially getting a shot at Scott Darling’s former spot in Chicago, Tompkins should have a good shot at getting major playing time. Even if Glass remains in Rockford, Tompkins will will get a shot.
These moves are not super-flashy, but they might be very important in the overall picture. At the very least, much like the Blackhawks, the IceHogs are shaking up things after a disappointing season.