We’re getting closer to training camp opening for the Chicago Blackhawks, and I’ve been spending some time warming up with some thoughts on the Blackhawks’ roster construction heading into the new year. Last week we discussed Lukas Reichel needing to be more assertive, Jason Dickinson‘s importance to the center group, where Taylor Raddysh might skate and some guys we’re not talking about enough.
In all of those pieces, we threw around some potential line combinations. With the veteran additions this summer — Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, Corey Perry and Ryan Donato up front — and the assumed full-time promotion of Reichel, it appears the Blackhawks have a crowded group of forwards heading into training camp.
A quick look at the guys we’re putting on the NHL roster for the opener in Pittsburgh shows the Blackhawks having very few spots available. Connor Bedard will be in Pittsburgh as the one true rookie in the Blackhawks’ forward group. Add him to Hall, Foligno, Perry, Donato, Reichel, Dickinson, Raddysh, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Johnson and Philipp Kurashev and we’re at 11 forwards. Which means there are a few guys on the bubble to get ice time… or head to Rockford… or get traded.
So let’s sort out who might win that last spot in the lineup, and which guys have a battle to earn an extra forward spot on the NHL roster out of camp. I’ve got five guys fighting for 1-2 spots when camp opens in ten days.
I talked about Guttman when we looked at the Blackhawks’ center group last week; he was solid last season while he was in the NHL, winning more than half of his faceoffs and producing four goals and two assists in 14 games with the Blackhawks. He also had 30 points in 39 games with the IceHogs. His season ended prematurely because of a shoulder issue he played through for a while in the second half, which makes his play more impressive in context.
Last year, Guttman spent almost all of his even-strength ice time with Tyler Johnson and Raddysh. And that line was good together, making that a viable option if the coaches want to go back to something that worked in a limited sample size. But on a fourth line with the wings available would make sense for Guttman this year. He’s smart, shows leadership qualities and plays the game hard between the circles — all things you want on an evolving roster. Knowing his shoulder is good to go to start camp, he’s my favorite to win the 12th forward spot.
Blackwell is really the one miss on Kyle Davidson’s resume that stands out. He signed a two-year deal with a $1.2 million cap hit before last season and many applauded the deal at the time. But he was banged up most of last season…
Read More: Five Blackhawks Forwards Fighting For the Final Roster Spot(s) 2023-09-11 16:15:00