With the 2017-18 season set to begin Thursday for the Chicago Blackhawks, moves came fast and furious Monday in an effort to get the roster set
After Saturday’s preseason finale against the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks had a quiet Sunday. That was just in anticipation of moves meant to get the roster closer to opening night status, with several adjustments occurring today.
With those moves made — along with Nathan Noel and Luc Snuggerud being moved to the AHL — the Blackhawks have a 23-man roster. More or less.
The one uncertainty stands in the form of Cody Franson, who has not yet signed a full-time contract with the Blackhawks. They’re waiting on the NHL to decide if Marian Hossa‘s skin condition is worthy of long-term injured reserve space, after which a move could be made with Franson.
But assuming the NHL uses its head and allows Hossa to go on LTIR (along with, presumably, Michal Rozsival and his post-concussion issues), this is the 23-man roster the Blackhawks will take into their opening night game Thursday against Pittsburgh:
Da Windy City
Reaction to the roster
There are a few things I find interesting about this roster. Let’s start with the positives in DeBrincat and Hayden making the cut. Those two played more than well enough to make this roster out of camp.
DeBrincat is showing solid playmaking ability and a surprising comfort level with the NHL game, having not played at even the AHL level. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to nightly NHL competition — AKA non-preseason competition.
Hayden, meanwhile, was like a bowling ball on the ice throughout the postseason. Some guys can do that and not really make an impact beyond being physical. But Hayden was actually getting to the net and playing a generally responsible game in both ends of the ice. He’s a nice bottom-six option right now.
On the “going down” side, I’m amazed the Blackhawks opted to move Tootoo to Rockford. The Blackhawks typically get guys like Tootoo in order to keep them around the bottom six, not send them to Rockford. But I think coach Joel Quenneville made the prudent move here, as Wingels is essentially going to be Tootoo with a bit more offensive upside.
Less surprising was Jurco getting the boot. I also wasn’t surprised to see Hinostroza go. While he brings a speed element the Blackhawks could really use, he’s just not a complete enough player to garner a roster spot at this time (although I’d take him over Wingels). I kind of thought he might be the last guy cut, and it looks like that was the case.
What’s interesting about this, though, is that the Blackhawks are now carrying eight defensemen. I didn’t expect that at all, mostly because it means two young guys are going to wind up riding pine early in the season. I thought Oesterle would be the last blueliner cut, but he has done well in camp (arguably better than Forsling) and earned a spot.
Maybe the Blackhawks are just preparing for the possibility of not being able to sign Franson. If they do, I wonder if the Blackhawks will continue to carry eight defensemen. Doesn’t seem like the best use of roster space, given you could have one of Forsling or Oesterle actually playing at the AHL level.
Regardless, we have a roster for the time being. This is a vastly different group than the one that left the Bridgestone Arena ice last April after being swept out of the postseason by Nashville. Will that be a good or bad thing? We’ll get our early answer in just a few days.