The Chicago Blackhawks have wrapped up their first practice of training camp on Friday, and the team rolled out some interesting line combinations.
The Blackhawks, who are looking for new contributors at key positions after missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, bumped Alex DeBrincat up to the top line for the workout, and paired him with captain Jonathan Toews and newly signed winger Chris Kunitz.
Here is the full lineup at forward:
Kunitz – Toews – DeBrincat
Saad – Schmaltz – Kane
Ejdsell – Anisimov – Sikura
Hayden – Kruger – Martinsen
Kampf – Johnson – Kahun
The second line of Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz, and Patrick Kane has been hinted at for months, but now it appears Joel Quenneville will give it a go, as Saad and Kane could prove to be a very good fit. Saad’s defensive skill could help make up for shortcomings that Schmaltz has in that area, and Kane’s offense could be a good boost to Saad’s rough numbers of a season ago.
Victor Ejdsell and Dylan Sikura, both of whom are expected to compete for top six jobs, skated with Artem Anisimov on the third line, and could get bumped up at some point during camp if Kunitz is unable to fulfil the job as a top line winger.
The Blackhawks’ defensive alignment was significantly altered Friday by the absences of Gustav Forsling, Brent Seabrook, and Connor Murphy, who are all dealing with injuries:
Keith – Jokiharju
Manning – Rutta
Davidson – Gustafsson
Dahlstrom – Boqvist
2017 first round pick Henri Jokiharju found himself on the team’s top line, and with injuries to Murphy and Seabrook, he could have a very real chance at making the team’s roster as a right-handed defenseman this season.
New acquisition Brandon Manning, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, was on the second line with Jan Rutta as the Blackhawks try to get their blue line sorted out.
Brandon Davidson, who signed a try-out contract with the team, found himself on the third pairing with Erik Gustafsson, who signed a contract extension with the team last season.