There have been some solid discussions happening the message board coming out of my last article where I looked at how crowded the Blackhawks defence is getting.
To recap, CHI currently has 15 D on NHL contracts (BOLD
: 8 on 1-way deals).
Add another 3 on AHL-only deals (Osipov, Ryczek and McArdle).
Most of you have voiced your opinion to what you would like to see and I think for the most part we're on the same page.
Let's talk this out.
– Barring any injuries or unforeseen trades, the Hawks will start with Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, de Haan (might be on IR to begin the season), Maatta and Gustafsson.
The BUBBLE Boys
– If we're looking at the remaining 1-way deals, the duo remaining is Carl Dahlstrom and Slater Koekkoek. It's honestly a toss-up between these guys.
Coach Colliton has a longer history with the big Swede, Dahlstrom, however, Koekkoek makes the most sense to me as a 7th guy.
I would prefer if Dahlstrom continues to play and act as a leader in Rockford – that is if he passes through waivers which he and Koekkoek will have to before heading to the minors.
The WILD CARD
– Of course, what's a training camp without a curveball or two?
To my eye, there is only one real wild card that could force the Hawks hand - Adam Boqvist.
I don't believe he's 100% ready and some AHL time will really serve him well. However, I will say, I think he made huge strides last year playing in London and he's closer to that 100% than I would have imagined at this point in his progression.
Even if he doesn't make the team out of camp, there is a good chance that Boqvist sees time at some point throughout the season.
So, this is what I'm going with in Chicago to start the season:
Keith – Gustafsson
Maatta – Murphy
De Haan – Seabrook
I am assuming that de Haan will be healthy in the above pairings. If he's not quite ready, I could easily see Boqvist, Dahlstrom or even Philip Holm sticking around a little longer.
What does that mean for Rockford?
What does it mean? Well, according to my math, there is going to be 47 Swedish defencemen on the roster. Not quite, but they sure are building up a posse.
I'm going to say for the purpose of this blog that Carl Dahlstrom is sent down and clears waivers after training camp which gives Rockford a lineup on the backend that should be fun to watch:
Holm – Dahlstrom
Carlsson – Boqvist
Extras/Rotating/Headed to Indy: Tuulola, Osipov, Ryczek, McArdle
Just like last year, it will be a fight for ice time amongst the D in Rockford but nothing Head Coach Derek King won't be able to handle.
Last year it was Dennis Gilbert who was getting scratched more often than I thought he would be, from that experience and coaching though, he really turned the corner in the 2nd half of the season, even earning him a late-season call up by Chicago.
Obviously, all pairings are subject to change; I'm merely putting them in this format to give us all perspective.
When looking at the above, it's a lot more promising than what the Hawks had in the system just a few years ago. Their defensive depth has come a long way and we're not even including a couple of other exciting prospects in Ian Mitchell and Alex Vlasic.
Just a heads up that next week I will begin my "Goal Predictions" by defence and forwards just like last year. Then I will role in Central Division breakdowns by team.
See ya out there!