The Chicago Blackhawks have whittled their roster down to 33 by saying goodbye to a pair of veterans. Lubomir Visnovsky, a 39-year-old defenseman, and Tomas Kopecky, a former Stanley Cup winner with the 2010 Blackhawks, were both released from Blackhawks training camp Monday.
Visnovsky was on a professional tryout contract with the Blackhawks, much like recently-released fellow defenseman Jan Hejda, and he had spent the previous three seasons with the New York Islanders. Kopecky received an invite to camp after spending the previous four seasons in Florida.
These two decisions come on the heels of forward Brandon Mashinter being sent to waivers, as we sit nine days from the Blackhawks’ regular-season opener against the New York Rangers. The Blackhawks now have a roster containing 19 forwards, 11 defensemen and three goaltenders.
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Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Kyle Baun, Bryan Bickell, Marko Dano, Andrew Desjardins, Ryan Garbutt, Ryan Hartman, Vincent Hinostroza, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Marcus Kruger, Artemi Panarin, Dennis Rasmussen, Garret Ross, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Viktor Tikhonov, Jonathan Toews, Daniel Paille
Just looking at each position group, we can take a good guess as to who will be on the Opening Night roster for the Blackhawks. The easiest group to “predict” is the goaltenders, as Crawford and Darling will be the starter and backup, respectively, in Chicago. Leighton will lead the position group in Rockford once again.
Assuming the Blackhawks roll with 14 forwards and seven defensemen to start the season (certainly not a guarantee), we know these forwards and defensemen will be on the roster:
Forwards: Anisimov, Bickell, Desjardins, Hossa, Kane, Kruger, Panarin, Shaw, Teravainen, Tikhonov, Toews
Defensemen: Daley, Hjalmarsson, Keith, Rozsival, Seabrook, Rundblad, van Riemsdyk
That’s seven defensemen, though there’s always a chance Rundblad is replaced with one of Schilling, Svedberg or Cumiskey. There’s also a chance Rozsival isn’t 100 percent healthy for the start of the regular season, which would open up another spot for one of Schilling, Svedberg or Cumiskey.
You might notice I left Dano off the “for sure” forwards list. I entirely expect him to be on the Opening Night roster, but Q has done strange things in the past when he takes a liking to forwards who weren’t expected to be on said roster. Still, I think Dano is more or less locked in to a forward spot.
So we’re looking at 12 forwards with Baun, Garbutt, Hartman, Hinostroza, Rasmussen, Ross and Paille looking to earn one of two possible forward spots. Baun seems to have made quite the impression in camp, so he seems to have the inside track to one of those two press-box forward spots. I would say the other spot will come down to a battle between Garbutt and Paille. The former came to the Blackhawks in the Patrick Sharp trade with Dallas, while the latter is on a professional tryout contract with the Blackhawks.
If Paille wins the spot over Garbutt, Stan Bowman will need to sign him to a real contract at some point. Considering how tight cap space is to begin with, it’ll probably be easier for the Blackhawks to roll with Garbutt over Paille. Garbutt has also been slightly more impressive than Paille in the preseason and is a nice Shaw duplicate, something Q can likely appreciate.
We’re getting closer and closer to Opening Night, Blackhawks fans. Soon, the roster will reflect that.
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