Chicago Blackhawks Trim Training Camp Roster

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CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville yells from the bench during a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks on February 23, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. Blackhawks won 3-1. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Chicago Blackhawks trimmed their training camp roster this past weekend. The team began training camp with 57 players. They currently have 17 forwards, 12 defencemen, and 4 goalies remaining in camp. Defence and goaltending are drawing the most attention due to many questions remaining about the direction of the Blackhawks.

Blackhawks Training Camp Roster Cuts

The Chicago Blackhawks assigned or released several players since training camp began. The biggest areas of concern for the Blackhawks have been solidifying their defence and goaltending. Listed below are the remaining players battling for a spot on the opening night roster.

Defence

Connor Murphy being on injured reserve for eight weeks has opened up a temporary spot on the defence roster. Starters Keith, Seabrook, Rutta, and Brandon Manning look to be joined by some fresh faces on defence when the season opens. The Blackhawks will carry seven defencemen into the season which leaves three openings. The remaining defencemen will have three pre-season games in which to earn their spot on the Blackhawks opening night roster.

Recent number one draft picks Henri Jokiharju (2017) and Adam Boqvist (2018) will battle Erik Gustafsson, Gustav Forsling, Carl Dahlstrom, Joni Tuulola, and Brandon Davidson for the three open spots. Jokiharju and Boqvist will need to step up their game if they hope to beat out the other defencemen with NHL experience. They have both had some good moments in the pre-season games, but at times have looked tentative and unsteady in their own end. Offensively they have shown flashes of what made them number one picks by the Blackhawks.

Unfortunately, they will have to improve on the defensive side to win a spot in coach Joel Quenneville‘s lineup. Quenneville favours defence first and tends to prefer experience on his defence corps. The two number one picks will have to show they belong to make the Blackhawks. Outstanding two-way play in the two weeks ahead may earn one or both up to a 9 game stint on the team while Murphy is out. They can play up to 9 NHL games without “burning a year” of their entry-level contract. All eyes will be on the two youngsters as they try to earn a spot with the team.

Goaltending

Here are the remaining goalies in camp:

Corey Crawford is still recovering from concussion-related symptoms during training camp. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, his return to the lineup is a long way off as of now. That situation has created a competition for the starter and backup goalie position with two weeks to go before opening night. Cam Ward has the edge to start until Crawford is able to return to his Vezina form. Delia and Forsberg remain to battle for the backup goalie spot. Delia is pressing hard for a spot on the roster. His play has been outstanding at times when he was in net during the first three pre-season games. He has looked as solid as during his run leading the Rockford Ice Hogs to their conference finals last playoffs. The remaining three games on the schedule will be Forsberg and Delia’s last chances to out-duel the other for the backup role.

Countdown to The Opener

The remaining pre-season games will decide what direction the Chicago Blackhawks go with their roster. There are chances for many of the prospects and players with NHL experience that remain in camp. Luckily for the fans of the storied franchise the last three pre-season games are at home. Those in attendance will get a close look at the Blackhawks players vying to help turn around a team in a rebuild. Fingers will be crossed as the Blackhawks look to return to playoff relevance in the near future.

Next Up

Next up we will be covering the forwards that will be trying to crack the lineup like Alex DeBrincat did last pre-season. Out of the remaining 17 forwards there are several dark horses pushing for a spot next to icons Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. They too have limited time to beat out the rest. The next two weeks will be very entertaining to say the least.

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