The Chicago Blackhawks named their 52-man roster for training camp on Thursday morning, and while the familiar faces like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will draw plenty of attention heading into the new season, there are several players that fans should keep an eye on when camp opens on Friday at the University of Notre Dame.
That’s right Hawks fans. The former 3rd overall draft pick of the Blackhawks is back with the team for training camp, and while it’s going to be pretty difficult for him to win a roster job, he does give the Hawks some flexibility if they end up trading a defenseman to get under the league’s salary cap.
As it stands right now, the Hawks are $2.2 million over the cap, and getting rid of a guy like Johnny Oduya or Nick Leddy would be a way to get under that number. Barker has struggled in the NHL (and was traded for Leddy earlier in his career), but with a fresh start in the NHL after a KHL stint, he could be looking to redeem himself.
If Barker isn’t a guy that ends up making the roster as a sixth defenseman, Johns could slide into that role. While Klas Dahlbeck has gotten plenty of attention as a potential rookie to watch in camp, Johns is a big player (6-foot-4) who would not only provide some scoring punch for the Blackhawks, with eight goals and 12 assists in 40 games last season at Notre Dame, but he also can provide the physicality that this team is likely going to lack in their forward corps.
That lack of physicality could be a reason why the Blackhawks will give Mashinter a look in camp. As a guy who was never afraid to drop the gloves, Mashinter could slide into the role as the team’s Brandon Bollig, and while some fans may not view it as necessary, head coach Joel Quenneville has repeatedly shown that he likes to have at least one grinder/fighter on his roster at all times.
Morin signed a new two-year contract with the Blackhawks over the offseason, and even though he wasn’t a big part of the team’s lineup last year, this could be the big break he’s been looking for. If he plays his cards right, he could end up with a nice role on the second or third line with this team, and pairing him up with players like Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw could be just the thing he needs to make the leap to the NHL on a full-time basis.
The questions on the Blackhawks’ blue line definitely could benefit Rundblad, as the young defenseman looks for more regular playing time. He only skated in five games with the Blackhawks last season after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes, and at just 23 years of age, he could be a sneaky pick-up for a team that has a history of turning cast-offs from other teams into solid NHL players.