Spencer Abbott keeps producing, but age counts against him

SHARE Spencer Abbott keeps producing, but age counts against him

Spencer Abbott had 21 points in 19 games with the IceHogs in 2015. (IceHogs Photo)

All Spencer Abbott does is create goals. In his senior season at Maine, he had 21 goals and an incredible 41 assists in just 39 games. In Sweden last season, he had 14 goals and 21 assists in 42 games. And in his one stint in the Blackhawks organization, back in 2014-15, he posted a ridiculous 12 goals in 19 games, adding nine assists for good measure.

In his only stint in the Blackhawks organization, all Spencer Abbott did was score a ridiculous 12 goals in 19 games with the Rockford IceHogs, adding nine assists while playing on a line with Peter Regin and Brandon Mashinter. Abbott even had two goals in the Hawks’ training camp festival a little more than a week ago. And in his preseason debut Sunday in Detroit, he had two assists on a makeshift lineup devoid of any proven forwards.

Abbott produces. It’s all he does.

So why have you probably not heard much about him? Or heard of him at all? Well, he’s 28 years old. And nobody’s looking for 28-year-old prospects. Even Joel Quenneville didn’t sugarcoat it.

“It’s a good question,” Quenneville said on Sunday. “Organizationally, we feel these [young] guys, at some point, they’re going to get turns and will be important to our team success this year, and then down the road, as well. But their performance dictates exactly what’s going to play out. But I understand the question, and I think it’s got some validity to it.”

And sure enough, Abbott was placed on waivers on Monday, according to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll head to Rockford.

Abbott understands. He’s been around long enough to know that the Hawks are more intrigued by college kids such as Nick Schmaltz and Tyler Motte, and homegrown talent such as Vinnie Hinostroza and Ryan Hartman. Abbott knows he’ll always be a long shot, no matter how much he produces.

“The young guys are all drafted, and they want to have their draft picks be a part of the organization and play well, and that’s the way it’s always been in the league,” Abbott said. “And that’s fine. I mean, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. I can’t change anything. I’m an offensive guy, and I have to try to create scoring chances, shift in and shift out.”

Abbott was acquired by the Hawks in February of 2015 in a minor-league deal for defense T.J. Brennan. At the time, Abbott was thrilled by the move, saying things had gotten “stale” in Toronto after three full seasons on the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, with just one NHL game to his credit. But after his eye-opening 19-game stint in Rockford, Abbott took a look at where he was on the Hawks’ depth chart and was itching to try something else. So he took up an offer to play for Frolunda in Sweden.

His fun-sounding whim yielded to a grueling two-month training camp during which he was at the rink or in the gym basically all day.

“It was very, very difficult,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Still, Abbott flourished in Sweden, productive as ever. But knowing time was running out on his playing career, and preferring what he deemed North America’s more cerebral style of hockey to Europe’s more reactive style — “It’s not quite as much thinking, and I like to think,” he said — Abbott told his agent to put out feelers, and the Hawks quickly picked him back up.

It’s hard to say if the Hawks will ever give Abbott a look at the NHL level. But injuries are inevitable — almost as inevitable as Abbott scoring a bunch of goals wherever he plays — and Abbott’s not quite ready to give up on his NHL dream just yet.

“I wanted to get a different side of pro hockey in Sweden, and get that experience,” Abbott said. “But after that, I wanted to come back and give it one more shot before I’m really too old to try and do this. This is kind of my last shot — or one of them, anyway. So I’m trying to make it count.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus

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