ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–The IceHogs felt like they were a playoff hockey team before the NHL trade deadline. Now, after a flurry of deals at the deadline last week, they feel like they’re in an even better position to make a postseason run.

The IceHogs’ practice Tuesday at the Riverview Ice House felt a little like training camp. With so many news guys on the ice, they were simply trying to get to know each other.

“There’s a lot of new faces, but all the new guys that have came in, they’re great guys, and they look like really good players on the ice, and they’re great guys off the ice,” said IceHogs’ forward Mike Hardman.

Players who were subtracted from the team at the trade deadline included Adam Clendening, Dylan Sikura, Josiah Slavin and Dylan Wells.

The newcomers who have arrived include veteran goaltender Anton Khudobin from one of the Hogs’ division rivals the Texas Stars, and two former San Diego Gulls players defenseman Hunter Drew and forward Rocco Grimaldi. Grimaldi ranks second in the AHL in goals scored and seventh in the league in points.

Those two guys go from a last place team in San Diego, to a playoff contender in Rockford.

Grimaldi was surprised to be traded.

“I was shocked. I expected that I was probably going to finish the year there, and we probably weren’t going to make the playoff, so I was going to be done in 15 games, and all of a sudden now you’re in a playoff push, so it’s pretty cool.”

Khudobin says he thought something might happen, and then it did. “The general manager called me from here, Bernie (Mark Bernard) and he said you’re going to Rockford. That’s the plan.”

“We went on the ice for the first time today (for practice). It was fun. It was a hard practice. I enjoyed everything quite well.”

Obviously, the Blackhawks were trying to stockpile draft picks up at that level, but what do all the moves at the AHL level with the IceHogs’ signal about what the Blackhawks expectations are for the Hogs for the rest of this season?

“I think our expectations is to make the playoffs and make a run,” said IceHogs coach Anders Sorensen. “I think they tried to put us in a position where we can do that.”

IceHogs general manager Mark Bernard pulled the trigger on some of the trades including the one that landed Grimaldi.

“That’s something I’ve been working on here for the last three or four weeks. I finally was able to convince the San Diego team to trade him our way. I’m very happy that we were able to get him.

Bernard says with Grimaldi the IceHogs have added a premier scorer. With the additions of Drew and defenseman Andy Welinski who was part of the Patrick Kane trade, they’ve added more size and defense, and with the addition of Khudobin the IceHogs now have as good of depth at goaltender as any team in the league.

“We’re looking to make a good push here this spring and go far in the playoffs,” said Bernard. “I think these players can definitely help us do that.”

We won’t get to see the news guys in game action in Rockford until next Wednesday. The Hogs two games this weekend will be on the road.