Less than a week, Chicago Blackhawks fans. Less than a week until the latest championship banner is raised and the Blackhawks officially start their Stanley Cup title defense. But, we can’t get there without the preseason first, can we?
Earlier, we previewed the training camp roster, and now we’re set to preview the nearly-final regular season roster. This offseason has been filled with distractions and strife, no doubt, but we’re less than seven days away from the blades hitting the ice for meaningful hockey. Several young guys have really impressed, guys like Bartlett-native Vincent Hinostroza and Kyle Baun, fresh out of Colgate (NOT the toothpaste).
Baun has taken advantage of his opportunity to play with the big club, even if it is just in the preseason. He has been very active on the offense, has shown the ability to play 200-foot game that allows him to make the most of his offensive chances and gets back on defense when needed. He’s already hit the scoresheet multiple times in preseason action and showed he can do all the right things for his position. Slapping him on a line with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins could very well add some offensive firepower to what is known as a “grinder” line — although some would wonder where that would leave Andrew Shaw, who showed that putting him on a line with Kruger and Desjardins can yield very frustrating results for opponents high-powered lines in the playoffs.
Da Windy City
Another prospect that has impressed rather recently is Hinostroza, who has come out of training camp showing as much promise as Baun. Hinostroza looked really good the other night against the Blues and showed that he, much like Baun, can play a 200-foot game, being much like his elder teammate Marian Hossa (that’s not saying you’re old, Hoss). Hinostroza is a defensive-minded offensive player who has some offensive punch. If he’s given an opportunity this season, much like Baun, I believe that the Hawks will find him very beneficial and productive. But Hinostroza was sent to Rockford in the latest roster cuts, so his chance will have to come later.
There are a few other characteristics that make these two very appealing early on, like the fact that each of them is willing to get around the crease for “greasy” goals. Some people say that younger guys want to come in and get those flashy, highlight-reel goals as opposed to getting the ones that win games and, in the Chicago Blackhawks’ case, the goals that win championships. But not all prospects are like that, as these two have displayed.
Both of these prospects show promise and an overwhelming drive to succeed, not to mention they show some of the intangibles of being great hockey players (such as great vision) that made guys like Teuvo Teravainen become instant fan-favorites. Until he develops a little further, I suspect Hinostroza will remain in Rockford for a bit more seasoning, but also to be in one of those “players-in-waiting” roles — a player who would instantly be called up if a current roster player gets in coach Joel Quenneville‘s doghouse or gets injured. But Baun appears to be a starter for opening night after the latest roster moves.
Only a few more days, Blackhawks fans. Only a few more long, long days.
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