When the NHL returned to play (the first game was being played while this was written), it was decided that every team would carry a 31-player roster.
Looking at the composition of that expanded roster for the Chicago Blackhawks carries some hints about the team’s future defensively.
A lot of people instantly noted that Corey Crawford was included, despite not having practiced much with the team, but he’s the Blackhawks’ starter. It would have been more surprising if he hadn’t been listed with his teammates.
What stands out most are the players that were included that likely won’t play. These players indicate where Chicago’s lineup is headed in the near future.
Before we get to the players that were included, as NBC noted, there were four players cut to bring the final tally down to 31.
Tomkins would have been a fifth(!) goalie, and that’s overkill. There’s almost certainly an emergency contingency if the team needs his help. Reese Johnson probably wasn’t going to make the cut anyway, and there weren’t really any surprises among the forwards that were selected. Seabrook is rehabbing from the multiple surgeries he underwent. He wasn’t going to be playing.
However, Chad Krys is a player that Chicago probably wanted to see as a part of the organization’s future, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
This is clear from the fact that Nicolas Beaudin and Alec Regula were on the roster. It would be surprising if either player actually saw ice-time, but they were selected to travel with the team. Regula is particularly surprising because he’s never even played in the AHL, let alone the NHL.
It’s obvious that Krys has fallen out of favor a bit, and he probably will be playing in Rockford next year. Along with both Regula and Beaudin.
There won’t be many roster spots to be filled by Chicago in the next few years defensively, but you can bet a clear path has been made for certain players.
Adam Boqvist, Lucas Carlsson, Alec Regula, Nicolas Beaudin, and Ian Mitchell (who wasn’t eligible to play this year) will likely make-up Chicago’s defensive core in the next few years. Even if Chicago doesn’t make it past the play-in round, four of those players are in Edmonton right now. They’re all young, and look have a bright future. Among them, Carlsson is the oldest at 23 but has already proven that he’s a competent NHL defenseman.
It isn’t clear who won’t be on the roster in the next few years, but unless these five young defensemen don’t develop as expected then there will be quite a few changes on the Chicago blue-line, and soon.