Chicago Blackhawks Alex DeBrincat Shines, Hossa’s Contract Status Causing Defense Pairing Questions

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Alex Debrincat
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 21: Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during a preseason game at the United Center on September 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

After a week plus of training camp, the Chicago Blackhawks have played three preseason games. Blackhawks Alex DeBrincat is pushing hard for a spot in the lineup. In other news, the Blackhawks defense pairings are in question due to a potential ruling by the NHL.

Blackhawks Alex DeBrincat Shines

DeBrincat is one of several Hawks prospects filling fans with high expectations for the future. In preseason, he has been skating on a line with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz. This line combination had instant chemistry from the start of camp, and should make for a formidable second line. While it’s known that the Blackhawks would prefer to have DeBrincat play with the Rockford Ice Hogs initially, he’s making that choice difficult. DeBrincat’s recent success in the Prospects Tournament and play in the three pre-season games, has his chances of making the team rising. The Hawks brass have a tough decision between now and opening night on October 5th.

For more on the Blackhawks dilemma with DeBrincat check out Myles Stedman’s piece.

Blackhawks Defense Pairings

Connor Murphy has played one preseason game as a Hawk defenseman after being acquired in the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade with the Arizona Coyotes. Many Blackhawk fans are expecting a lot out of the newly acquired defenseman. One positive is the Hawks got a younger player with a physical edge in the trade. In reality, the Hawks will need Murphy to fill a large gap in the defense pairings with the departure of a true warrior on the back end. Due to Hjalmarsson’s ability to play on the top defense pair plus the penalty killing unit, he was a huge asset for the Hawks.

Expectations for Murphy are high as he transitions into his role with the team. The potential Blackhawks defense pairings are a major focus in training camp. Replacing what they lost on defense in the off-season will not be easy. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook anchor the Hawks back end. Murphy played alongside Duncan Keith in his only appearance, and looked good. The next challenge facing coach Quenneville is to pair up Seabrook to fill out the top four. The fifth and sixth defensemen will be decided from amongst those remaining in camp.

Franson’s Blackhawk Future In Question

Defeseman Cody Franson is the remaining PTO contract with the Blackhawks. His Hawk future is in question as the NHL is reviewing the contract status of Marian Hossa. The Blackhawks will attempt to place Hossa on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) once the season begins. This would provide the Hawks with cap relief for the season ahead. If the NHL does not allow the LTIR cap relief, the Blackhawks will have some tough choices to make. They are currently over the cap and would have to make some moves to afford Franson.

For a closer look at the Blackhawks Hossa situation check out this from Mark Lazerus:

Game Notes

The Blackhawks are 2-1 at the midway point of their exhibition game schedule. They have two games left against the Boston Bruins and one against the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks 2017 roster will be decided from the 20 forwards, 13 defensemen and 4 goaltenders still in camp.  The Hawks can have 23 players on their active roster for the start of the NHL season.

 

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