2. Young blood
Not only is there an issue on the first line, but there are jobs to be had up and down the entire forward corps lineup. On the official Chicago Blackhawks website, only ten forwards are currently listed. We all know it takes 12 players to make four lines, and there’s usually two extras for injury, substitution, and healthy scratch purposes. That leaves at least four open slots.
Jordin Tootoo is the only forward that was picked up via trade this offseason, but this doesn’t guarantee him a position. Interestingly, Dennis Rasmussen is not listed on the Hawks’ site, although he played in 44 games last season. He’s listed in the Rockford IceHogs roster instead.
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Brandon Mashinter, on the other hand, IS listed as a member of the Hawks, while he played in 41 games last year. Although all three of these players will probably dress for the Chicago Blackhawks at some point, it’s safe to say they are on the bubble.
They will be competing with a number of youngsters that have been in the system for quite some time now. An acquaintance on one of my Blackhawks Facebook groups dubbed these fellas the “Rockford rookies”. It’s a pretty good nickname, wouldn’t you say?
This group includes, Tanner Kero (17), Vincent Hinostroza (7), Ryan Hartman (3). Kyle Baun (2), and Mark McNeill (1). All had somewhat of a chance to show their stuff last season. I have put the number of games they played for the Chicago Blackhawks in parentheses behind their name. But that’s nothing compared to the opportunities they might receive this year.
Also included as part of these rookies are Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz. Both have thrived at the collegiate level, and are touted as highly likely to make the team this year.
At least a few of these guys have got to pan out, right? Most of these players would already be regulars in the NHL if they were affiliated with a team besides the Chicago Blackhawks. But either way, it’s not going to be an easy task to transition this much young blood into the system.
Next: Reason No. 3: Defensive Depth