Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times
The Blackhawks have announced their roster to open the season, and this is a young team for coach Joel Quenneville. Sure, the Hawks have let go of young players in recent years such as Teuvo Teravainen, Brandon Saad, and others, but these are young kids with little to no NHL experience on entry-level contracts needing to fill valuable roles for a cap-strapped Blackhawks squad.
Hawks beat writer Mark Lazerus tweeted the opening night lineup:
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 10, 2016
A few notes here. Niklas Hjalmarsson is suspended opening night. It has been reported that Gustav Forsling is on the second power play unit, so that could lead one to believe Trevor van Riemsdyk will check out of the lineup upon his return. Michal Rozsival and Dennis Rasmussen are both scratches. Whenever the Hawks play physical teams such as the Blues like they do in Wednesday’s opener, you’ll see Jordin Tootoo play. Alexandre brought speed and skill to the table, but at 19, he was sent back to the Quebec Major/Junior Hockey League.
Coach Q is known for line juggling, but for opening night, he has kept the top-six from the first-round of the playoffs intact. The bottom-six is where it gets interesting. The Hawks have plugged in four highly-touted rookies in some fashion around Kruger and a revolving door at fourth-line right wing. Ryan Hartman is more of a heart-and-soul guy with skill, but Nick Schmaltz is a first-round pick with great offensive upside. He’s not a fourth-line center. Tyler Motte and Vinny Hinostroza are undersized playmakers that also are not your typical bottom-six players. Andrew Desjardins will be out four-to-six weeks with a lower body injury and was placed on injured reserve.
The Hawks opted to keep Tootoo over Brandon Mashinter and the kids over former first-round pick Mark McNeill, whom each were placed on waivers.
Once Q starts juggling again, kids will get chances with veterans, and we’ll really get to see how NHL-ready these forwards are.