ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– The Chicago Blackhawks want their top prospects getting lots of game experience in Rockford with the IceHogs. Defenseman Alex Vlasic fits that bill.

Vlasic is currently skating with the IceHogs. He was the Blackhawks’ second-round draft pick in 2019. You can see why starting with his 6-6 frame.

“I think some of my strengths are obviously  my size, and I think my skating is pretty good for how big I can be, and I think that helps me be a little bit more of a shutdown defenseman,” said Vlasic after practice Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t consider myself  a big guy that’s going to be laying big hits and all like that. I feel like that’s not really part of my identity. For me, it’s kind of more being that guy with good boots to kind of get a good stick on the puck in the corner or breaking up a play like that.”

Last year at this time Vlasic was playing out his junior season at Boston University. There he led the team with 51 blocked shots. This past March he signed an entry-level contract with the Blackhawks. He participated in their prospect camp this summer and then in their training camp.

“It was good to be around the guys up there and kind of experience the NHL level of play in the preseason,” said Vlasic. “It was a lot of fun playing with those guys. You kind of get a taste for how talented guys are up there.”

Vlasic started this season in Chicago, but he didn’t see any game action. The Blackhawks wanted him in Rockford where he will see plenty of action, so they sent him to Rockford last Tuesday.

“Coming down here was a little bit of a breath of fresh air, just kind of having a new opportunity with a new team. They’re allowing me to play a little bit more hockey. I’m not really too worried about making mistakes.”

It’s only been a two-game sample size of Vlasic in an IceHogs’ uniform so far, but head coach Anders Sorensen already senses a strong presence from Vlasic on the ice in those two games.

“He killed plays quickly. With the puck I thought he did some good things, but just for him with the range he’s got and the size he’s got, closing in on guys, closing guys off, killing plays defensively, that is something he did real well.”