The Blackhawks are a few games into the pre-season schedule that will see them play 6 tilts throughout. This camp feels more intense than high school tryout. It is healthy human nature to have this high level of competition.
This appears to be more intense because there’s a lot of make or break years coming up for a handful of Blackhawks hopefuls. Well, at least at the forward position. The removal of Frolik, Stalberg and Bolland was not done without a thorough evaluation. Same reason Khabibulin was brought in and their were no changes to the Stanley Cup Champion defence. The Hawks know what they have and do not have.
Players like Jeremy Morin, Jimmy Hayes, Ben Smith, Kyle Beach and Brandon Pirri have kept the Hawks GM, scouts and other evaluators intrigued and frustrated for a few years now. Whether they were acquired in a trade or drafted and homegrown, there’s a certain level of patience set with these players.
It’s sink or swim for the names above and unfortunately it might mean grasping on to a role that is out of their comfort zone. Look no further than the aforementioned Dave Bolland. A offensive wiz in the OHL, he changed his game to meet the Hawks needs and made the team. Whether he likes it or not, he is now typecast as a gritty, defensive specialist with some offensive upside.
So let’s focus on those players. Here’s what should be going through the Hawks prospects heads right now:
“I can steal that third line winger job by showing some strong defensive play. They already know I have a great shot and offensive skills, so maybe I’ll see some PP time if my overall game impresses them.”
“I need to keep saying the right things about being a physical force like Bickell. Then back up my words by playing big in pre-season. Also, show off my new found improved speed and steal that third line winger job.”
“I’m on a one-way deal right now so that third line winger job is mine! If not, I can fit in as a fourth line/PK specialist role and chip in with some offense. I need to show them I’m a defensive asset, not liability.”
“I can’t let this injury deter me. If I can get into a couple pre-season games, I need to show them what I got. I have the offense to play top 6 but if I need to slide into the third/fourth line to start the year, I will!”
Let me know your thoughts. Who do you think will make it in the above, if any.
~ Brad Winchester skated alongside Toews in the Washington game on Friday night. I’m sure for policing purposes, but he skated real well and even chipped in with a goal. I would not be the least but surprised if he and Bollig platoon as Coach Q’s muscle cats this season.
~ Joakim Nordstrom is awfully close to catapulting himself over the Hawks youngsters highlighted above. The Swedish PK duo of Nordstrom and Kruger could prove to be too enticing for Coach Q and Co. to send him back to Rockford. Smith, Morin or Hayes better emerge as an option here soon or they could be riding the bus again.
~ Antti Raanta is not Antti Niemi. However, it appears they both of Finnish nerves of steal. Raanta did not seemed fazed at all facing the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, etc. Not a bad outing for his first in North America.
Ty Cam out!
Filed Under: Chicago Blackhawks
About the Author: I am a rare Chicago Blackhawks fan from Canada, one might describe me as a hockey connoisseur and a solid checking line centre to your local rec hockey team. I once lived in a town of 500 people and now work in the hockey mecca that is Toronto. I work in the wonderful world of Advertising and these opinions are one of my own and not of my company - don't get it twisted.