This past weekend, the Blackhawks cut their roster down to 22 players, with 3 injured to start the season. The Blackhawks will start their season with 13 forwards, 7 defenseman, and 2 goaltenders. Most of the cuts made didn’t come as a surprise to me, besides Dylan Sikura. He had appeared in 5 games at the end of the year and notched 3 assists in his time up, but the Hawks still sent him to Rockford. I know he’s young, but you wanted speed in this lineup and that’s what he brought to the table. He spent 4 years in college at Northeastern, he should be NHL ready by now, just plug him on the 3rdline and limit his minutes. Besides that, I liked who they kept on the roster.
Chicago will start the season without Corey Crawford, although I heard he may practice with the team. His return time is still unknown, but it seems to be getting closer. I didn’t like at all what I saw out of Ward this preseason, he let in too many easy goals to minor league plugs and he didn’t look like the replacement for Crawford. Safe to say, I’m concerned with the goaltending situation.
I’m excited about one player in particular on the blue line: Henri Jokiharju. He had a great camp and preseason and looks ready to take on the NHL. I think this kid is something special and we’re going to see a lot of good things out of him this year. Brandon Davidson also made the team after a strong preseason on a PTO and I’d like to see what he could do while Gustav Forsling comes back from his wrist injury. I imagine Davidson will likely be a healthy scratch most games, but I sure as hell would rather see him than Brandon Manning. I also want to point out that Brent Seabrook lost a shit load of weight and looks faster than before. Last year he didn’t deserve to be a top pair defenseman, but I think this year he will. The defenseman pairs will probably start the season looking like this:
Keith – Seabrook
Gustafsson – Rutta
Manning/Davidson – Jokiharju
Another player you need to get hyped about is Dominik Kahun coming from Germany. This dude is sweet, he’s fast and has great hands, he’ll surely make Toews a great player again this year. There is some speed up front and then a tremendous drop off between the top 6 and bottom 6. I’ve already mentioned that John Hayden is one of my favorite players on this roster. If the Hawks can stay in contention for a wild card spot, they’ll make a move at the deadline to get a player that’ll make a difference. This is what the lines will look like, barring minor changes:
DeBrincat – Toews – Kahun
Saad – Schmaltz – Kane
Kunitz – Anisimov – Kampf
Hayden – Kruger – Martinsen
Johnson- healthy scratch, occasionally plugged in for Kampf or Martinsen.
I’m excited for Thursday, this might not be the best team, but they’ll probably beat Ottawa and start the season 1-0 before coming back to play the Blues on Saturday. This team has bright spots, this team also has a lot of holes, but get excited, hockey is BACK.