Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Battle for roster spots continues within Blackhawks’ forwards

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The Chicago Blackhawks are approaching more and more to a list season opener.

The Blackhawks have 14 cuts Monday. This leaves them with 17 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders.

At some point, the Blackhawks will either send the keeper Ivan Nalimov return to the KHL or make him sign a pro contract. If it is the latter, it will play in the AHL or ECHL. This leaves the Blackhawks with two goalkeepers.

With defenders, the question is about Gustav Forsling. It is still likely to return to Sweden for the season, but it gave them something to think about. The Blackhawks can wait until the last minute to make that decision.

So what about the attackers? The Blackhawks will probably keep 13 or 14, which means they have to cut three or four other attackers. Here is a look at each of the 17 remaining attackers and their percentage chance of making the NHL list:

Artem Anisimov: Anisimov was the second-line center Blackhawks last season and is expected to be for many years to come. It will be interesting to see that its future will be wings. List chance: 100 percent.

Andrew Desjardins Desjardins has earned the trust of coach Joel Quenneville Blackhawks in an online verification role over the past two seasons. Random list: 95 percent The only reason he is not 100 percent is not forward, but Artemi Panarin, with a cap hit under $ 900,000 is an absolute lock to be on the list season opener.

Alexandre Fortin impressed enough to stick around Blackhawks. (Scott Powers / The Athletic)
Alexandre Fortin: As said Quenneville, the Blackhawks are "intrigued" by the 19-year-old Fortin. If it was a rebuilding season or the Blackhawks were a guarantee to make the playoffs, it would make more sense to keep Fortin NHL or explore at least a test of nine games. But they are not and can not afford to drop points in the regular season, and that's how it is likely Fortin returned to the QMJHL before the start of the season. List chance: 10 percent. It is always there, so you never know.

Ryan Hartman: Hartman is one of the prospects to get a long look. He appeared in three of the four preseason games and will likely play again on Tuesday. The Blackhawks would he fit into a versatile bottom-six winger role. They are happy with part of his game. The problem is they are not happy with this. Quenneville recently mentioned his inconsistency. List chance: 60 percent.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Vinnie Hinostroza had chances to score, but was not able to finish them. (Dennis Wierzbicki / USA Today Sports)
Vinnie Hinostroza: Hinostroza was one of the forerunners for a place to open the camp. He and the Blackhawks would surely see more production through three games, but it was fast, driven possession and was reliable defensively. It will probably end up on a wing rather than the center. List chance: 90 percent.

Marian Hossa: Hossa joining the Blackhawks this week after reaching the championship match of the World Cup with the Europe team. He played a key role in the success of the team. Quenneville Hossa had mentioned moving down the line, but the game Hossa at the World Cup may just keep it on the top line. List chance: 100 percent.

Patrick Kane: Kane played with so many different trio of companions throughout his career, so a change would be nothing new. Quenneville experimented with Kane and Panarin fractionation. Kane stay with Anisimov and get a new left wing. Nick Schmaltz he played on Saturday. List chance: 100 percent.

Marcus Kruger: Kruger was excited about the opportunity to play with Hossa. Even if this does not happen, Kruger may end up centering the third line with a little more forward than usual offensive. List chance: 100 percent.

Brandon Mashinter: Mashinter done through a large round of cuts on Monday. Quenneville likes physical play Mashinter. Mashinter not often see much ice time last season, but he appeared in 41 NHL games. Score a goal, the other day certainly did not hurt. List chance: 40 percent.

Mark McNeill: McNeill also survived the cuts Monday. It is difficult to assess what the Blackhawks think of him. He appeared in two preseason games. It did not do much to stand out so far and was a minus-16 Corsi. Blackhawks could keep it around as before 13 or 14 with its cheap cap hit? His performance Tuesday could determine his fate. List chance: 40 percent.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Motte scored two goals in the preseason. (Dennis Wierzbicki / USA Today Sports)
Tyler Motte: Motte did more to himself than any prospect in the preseason. Where there may have been at the border to begin camp, it seems like a lock now. It is generated and chances completed and been good defensively. It could be placed on a line and will likely join the penalty kill. List chance: 95 percent.

Artemi Panarin: Panarin does not work in a new situation this season. It has a year of NHL experience under his belt. This should help whether he plays with Kane. Panarin has been impressive defensive in his first preseason game, too. List chance: 100 percent.

Richard Panik: Panik came to camp with high expectations. He and the Blackhawks think it can turn into an offensive threat in the NHL. He had some game time directed the camp and the preseason games where it is very dangerous, but it has yet to show that consistent. It can not be on the first line, but will be given the opportunity to produce. List chance: 95 percent.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Rasmussen could be the fourth center Blackhawks this season. (Dennis Wierzbicki / USA Today Sports)
Dennis Rasmussen Rasmussen is closer to a place. Tanner Kero was one of the main competitors of Rasmussen in the fourth center of the team, and Kero was assigned to the American Hockey League on Monday. Rasmussen helped his cause with a goal and an assist and win faceoff in the preseason. List chance: 70 percent.

Nick Schmaltz: Schmaltz arrived at the camp with a lot of hype. It received mixed reviews so far. It shows his vision, quick hands and passing ability. It is also better defensively than many people give it credit. Some production in the next preseason game might help. It has zero through three games. It can also still get a look at the center. List chance: 85 percent.

Jonathan Toews: Toews will also join the team this week after playing in the World Cup. His offensive production dropped last season, and that was due in part to his teammates. It would benefit from Panarin and rejuvenated Hossa on his line this season. List chance: 100 percent.

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