Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Training Camp Sees First Roster Cuts

By Colin Likas
Oct 1, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Ville Pokka (17) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Ville Pokka (17) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks set about making the first trims to their training camp roster

Training camp is in full swing for NHL teams, including the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re back at Johnny’s IceHouse West today, with a scrimmage that began late this morning.

There was some other news that has gone on so far today for the Blackhawks as well. Let’s take a look at some news and notes.

First cuts made

First off, the Blackhawks made their first cuts to the training camp roster this morning. Radovan Bondra, John Dahlstrom, Nathan Noel and Roy Radke said their goodbyes and were reassigned to their respective junior teams.

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Bondra, Dahlstrom and Radke are all forwards who were taken by the Blackhawks in the 2015 NHL draft, while Noel is a forward who was selected in this year’s draft.

No surprises here, as these guys could all used plenty more seasoning before they have a chance to impact the big club.

Young blueliner comes back

Defenseman Ville Pokka returned to Blackhawks camp a day earlier than expected and even scrimmaged with the team today. Pokka was playing for Team Finland at the World Cup of Hockey.

Pokka had what could be generously described as a “meh” Cup, as he and the rest of the Finnish defense were exploited quite a bit in not winning a game. Pokka himself was turned inside out by Connor McDavid at one point.

Pokka is going to need a really strong camp to crack the Blackhawks’ opening night roster. He’s current competing against the likes of Trevor van Riemsdyk, Erik Gustafsson, Michal Rozsival and Viktor Svedberg for the sixth and seventh defenseman spots.

Pokka’s offensive game as a blueliner has never been questioned, but his defensive positioning is constantly suspect. Let’s see if he shows some improvement in that department during camp.

With Pokka’s return, the only Blackhawks still at the World Cup are Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford with Team Canada, and Marian Hossa with Team Europe.

Fortin, Blackhawks honeymooning

The Blackhawks made a dream come true Sunday by inking forward Alexandre Fortin to a three-year, entry-level deal. Fortin wasn’t a Blackhawks prospect who would just go to the AHL or some equivalent after being cut (assuming he is). He was invited to camp and hoped to impress the Blackhawks’ brass enough to get a contract.

Mission accomplished. Fortin, who was not drafted each of the last two seasons, tallied seven goals between the prospects’ camp and rookie tournament, catching the team’s eye. It’s led to a team-friendly contract, meaning Fortin could, if he impresses even more, start the season in Chicago.

Fortin, 19, has spent the last two seasons in the QMJHL. He posted 83 points in 127 games last season, helping Rouyn-Noranda to the President Cup in the process. He’s a speedy guy who obviously has a knack for creating his own shot, and the Blackhawks could really use someone like that on the bottom six. But it remains to be seen if Fortin can pan out at the NHL level.

Surprising face leading way

The guy who appears to be finding the net most frequently so far in training camp? Spencer Abbott.

It’s OK if you’re not familiar with the guy. The hockey veteran has one NHL game under his belt, with Toronto during the 2013-14 season. He spent the 2014-15 season with the Rockford IceHogs, netting 27 points in the same number of games.

After skating for the Swedish Hockey League’s Frolunda team last season (36 points in 51 games), Abbott is getting another crack at making an AHL or NHL roster. He’s posted some respectable point totals the last two seasons, a valuable asset for the Blackhawks right now.

Next: Fortin Signs Three-Year Deal

Abbott doesn’t necessarily project as someone who makes the opening night roster, but he could at least be a solid piece in the AHL if he keeps this up.

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