Hockey season is finally here again, the best time of year! The Chicago Blackhawks training camp is underway with a mixture of veterans and rookies comprising the forwards, defense, and goaltending position.
With a few significant roster changes this summer, training camp should create various storylines until the season commences on October 5th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. We can expect re-acquired LW Brandon Saad will play alongside Toews and Panik since he and Toews had developed great chemistry with one another prior to Saad being traded 2 years ago. The next three forward lines are anyone’s guess since Panarin is no longer going to play with Patrick Kane.
Take a look at what MY PROJECTED Blackhawks Opening Night lines will be, barring any other additions via trade.
- Hayden-Kero-Wingels, with Dauphin and Bouma being the extra players.
- Franson-Kempny with Rutta being the 7th defenceman
Despite his short stature, I have DeBrincat making the roster, due to his slick offensive talent and goal-scoring prowess. He broke the Ontario Hockey League scoring title last season, scoring 65 goals, 62 assists for 127 points! Some will say that he’s better off starting down in Rockford with the American Hockey League, but I disagree. Why not play him in the NHL for the 9 games and see how he does? Chances are, he will contribute offensively. Patrick Sharp arrival back in Chicago should see him rebound to about 40 plus points with his familiar teammates. I see Coach Quenneville easing Sharp back into Top 6 minutes by starting him on the 3rd line. He can work his way up to the 2nd line throughout the season.
As far as the defense is concerned, I truly believe that Connor Murphy, acquired from Arizona in exchange for fan favorite defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, will be able to do a fine replacement job as a solid shutdown defender with offensive ability. If Murphy can develop his offensive game like Johnny Boychuk did with the Islanders, then look out! Gustav Forsling should be able to take the next step as an offensive defenseman that can contribute on the second power-play unit. Some possible rookies to keep an eye on who could crack the roster are Alexandre Fortin, David Kampf, and Laurent Dauphin.
Hockey is back in Chicago. Now we just have to hope the Blackhawks’ window to keep winning Stanley Cups remains open for a few more years!