The Chicago Blackhawks are beginning their preparations for the upcoming season as they start training camp, and this year there are a ton of intriguing roster battles to keep an eye on.
Whether it’s the forward battle, which could see new acquisitions like Alex Nylander and Ryan Carpenter compete for ice time with players from last year’s squad like Brendan Perlini and Drake Caggiula, or defensemen like Adam Boqvist trying to crack the opening night roster, there are plenty of players vying for one of the coveted spots on the team.
Before the preseason gets underway next week, here are our opening predictions for which players will make the Blackhawks’ roster.
Forwards (13): Drake Caggiula, Ryan Carpenter, Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Brendan Perlini, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith, Dylan Strome, Jonathan Toews
The forward competition is incredibly deep at the bottom six spots, and we’re leaving off plenty of talented players, including MacKenzie Entwistle, David Kampf, and Philipp Kurashev.
John Quenneville is also fighting an uphill battle in our eyes, as is Dylan Sikura, but we do have first-round pick Kirby Dach and Czech star Dominik Kubalik making the cut in the early going.
Defensemen (8): Carl Dahlstrom, Calvin de Haan, Erik Gustafsson, Duncan Keith, Slater Koekkoek, Olli Maatta, Connor Murphy, Brent Seabrook
We are leaving Boqvist off the opening night roster, but it seems fairly likely he’ll be up with the team at some point soon. He is an incredibly dynamic player, but with at least pretty surefire options, it may take an injury or a trade to clear a spot for him.
The one player to watch in terms of a trade is Gustafsson, who will hit restricted free agency at the end of the season. At just $1.2 million for a cap hit this year, he is a palatable option as a power play quarterback for another team, and Boqvist would seem to be a ready-made replacement for him.
Another player to keep an eye on is Chad Krys, who had a solid end to his collegiate career before joining the Rockford IceHogs last season. He had four assists in nine games with the club.
Our guess is that Nicolas Beaudin is still another year away from joining the Blackhawks, but he had a strong season in the QMJHL last year, with seven goals and 49 assists to his credit.
Goaltenders (2): Corey Crawford, Robin Lehner
There isn’t really a surprise here, as Collin Delia will likely start the season in the minors barring injury, but the real question will be how Jeremy Colliton handles his starting job in net.
We’re guessing that he will go with a hot-hand approach, similar to that used by Joel Quenneville when the team had Ray Emery in 2013, but it will be very interesting to see how the competition plays out.