The Chicago Blackhawks roster is down to just a small group of forwards when considering where they started.
The Blackhawks have 17 forwards on their roster still, and they are going to have to get that number down to 13 or 14 by the time the season begins. This has been one of the best years for the team when it comes to depth entering training camp, so there are still a few different ways the lineup could look.
The Forwards Still On The Roster:
Well, the players in question to have a spot on this team are guys like Reese Johnson, Mike Hardman, and Mackenzie Entwistle. Sending those three players down to the minors would get the team down to 14 forwards which is right where they need to be for opening night.
However, the writing is on the wall for Alex Nylander that he might not have a spot on this team. Nylander has not been great this season and Chicago might be better off putting him through waivers as they have enough depth to get by without him. Sending down Nylander instead would open up a spot for a guy like Entwistle who definitely has been fun to watch throughout the preseason.
So what should the forward group look like:
Alex DeBrincat – Tyler Johnson – Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik – Jonathan Toews – Henrik Borgstrom
Brandon Hagel – Kirby Dach – Philipp Kurashev
Jujhar Khaira – Adam Gaudette – Mackenzie Entwistle
Extras: Carpenter and Strome
I do not think anyone is debating the top line at this point. While Dach will probably be that guy in the long run, to begin the year it won’t hurt him or the team to give him some more favorable matchups.
The second line seems like the right spot for Borgstrom. He has been one of the bigger standouts from training camp so far, and playing on a line with the captain could be something that he benefits from this season.
The Hagel and Dach pairing is such an interesting combination. Hagel was the standout guy last season and he has shown all he can do during training camp. Playing him with Dach might create some highlight-reel plays.
For the fourth line, I think a heavy checking gritty line is a benefit for the team. Gaudette has been great, Khaira has size and skill, and Entwistle is the sparky new rookie for the season. Throwing out that fourth line on opening night would give the team a line that they have not had in the past.
As for the scratched players, I do not think anyone wants three million dollars on the bench in Dylan Strome, but he needs to break in and find a roster spot throughout the year. I think he would find a spot through the season, but to begin the season he shouldn’t just be given a spot if some other guys earned it.
The Blackhawks know what they are getting out of Carpenter and having him as a scratched player that they can throw into the lineup every few games is a gift the team needs. Being a scratched player might be difficult at times to stay ready and make sure you can be consistent even though one might be sitting for two or three games in a row. Carpenter is a veteran who can play consistent hockey for this team. When the team needs him he would be up to the task.
Luckily we won’t have to wait long to see the lineup as the season starts on Wednesday, and the team has their final preseason game of the year on Saturday night!