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Chicago Blackhawks’ 2017 Training Camp Roster Cut To 31

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 21: David Kampf
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 21: David Kampf /
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The Chicago Blackhawks engaged in some more training camp roster trimming ahead of their final preseason game, paring the group down to 31 names

As we get closer with each passing day to the Chicago Blackhawks 2017-18 regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins (six days away!), more and more names fall off the team’s training camp roster. Today, that group was cut to 31 athletes.

On their way out are forwards Laurent Dauphin and David Kampf, along with defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Ville Pokka. Pokka had to be placed on waivers in order to be sent back to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, so he may not be a Blackhawk by day’s end. Blackhawk Up’s Sean Fitzgerald will have more on that later today.

(For the record, a Blackhawks press release says the number camp roster stands at 32, but I’m counting Pokka, who is still on the roster listed on Chicago’s website, as being among the cuts.)

But getting back to the roster itself, this means the Blackhawks are just eight players away from their regular-season unit. Coach Joel Quenneville has told local media the team plans to carry the maximum 23 players to start the season.

So let’s break down by position who’s still here:

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Lance Bouma, Alex DeBrincat, Ryan Hartman, John Hayden, Vinnie Hinostroza, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Tanner Kero, Nathan Noel, Richard Panik, Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Jordin Tootoo, Tommy Wingels

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  • Defensemen: Gustav Forsling, Cody Franson (PTO), Duncan Keith, Michal Kempny, Connor Murphy, Jordan Oesterle, Michal Rozsival, Jan Rutta, Brent Seabrook, Luc Snuggerud

    Goaltenders: J.F. Berube, Corey Crawford, Anton Forsberg

    How to get the roster to 23

    While I said the Blackhawks had to trim eight more players to get to the opening night group, the reality is it should only be six. Marian Hossa (barring NHL insanity regarding his health) and Michal Rozsival will start the season on long-term injured reserve. That takes care of two names.

    Noel is inexplicably still on the roster despite being both injured and waiver exempt. Perhaps I missed something on him, or maybe being on the roster gets him better medical treatment for the leg injury he suffered in the prospect tournament earlier this month, but you know he isn’t going to be on the opening night roster.

    Snuggerud may have had an outside shot at 6 or 7D, but that disappeared when he was ruled out three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered in a preseason game. He’s also waiver exempt, so he’ll be back in Rockford soon enough as well.

    Berube will also be on his way down, as the Blackhawks are set with Crow and Forsberg in net. So that leaves us with three guys needing to be trimmed, and it’s where things start to get really tricky for the Blackhawks.

    Franson is still on a PTO until Hossa goes on LTIR, at which point the Blackhawks can use the acquired cap space to sign Franson. So unless the NHL rules Hossa is faking a skin-eating illness, Franson is going to be among the final 23.

    Now we’re down to two spots. I’m saying Oesterle is the last defenseman cut from the camp roster, so that leaves us with four forwards competing for these two spots. And your candidates are: DeBrincat, Hayden, Hinostroza, Jurco.

    If the Blackhawks want to start with the best roster of forwards … they would first do away with Wingels and Tootoo. But knowing they aren’t going anywhere, they should really keep DeBrincat and Hayden around.

    They’ve looked among the best players in camp, and the Blackhawks could really benefit from having more creativity and skill (DeBrincat) and more power-forward instincts (Hayden) in their lineup. Hinostroza is a tough cut, but you know he’ll be back up. Jurco … that ship has sailed, and the Blackhawks need to realize it.

    Next: Blackhawks' John Hayden Deserves NHL Spot

    Saturday’s preseason finale against the Boston Bruins should tell us even more of the story here with regard to the Blackhawks’ regular-season roster. That game is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start at the United Center and can been seen on CSN Chicago and heard on WGN Radio 720-AM.

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