After last night’s pretend game against a very real Penguins roster wherein the Hawks’ B-cast relatively held their own, more cuts came down today from on high.
The following players won an all-expenses paid trip to lovely Rock Vegas:
The #Blackhawks have assigned eight players: D. LeBlanc, T. Broadhurst, P. Danault, B. Froese, K. Beach, A. Raanta, B. Mills, M. Shalunov.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) September 24, 2013
Additionally, veteran meatbags Brad Winchester and Theo Peckham were put on waivers, for the purpose of being sent to the Swine.
So what does this mean moving forward?
First and foremost, the name that leads that list is Drew “Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog” LeBlanc, who had the inside track on the #2 center position with Brandon Pirri missing time early in the preseason, and Michal Handzus missing time with a case of “old”. Quenneville has already indicated that he’ll likely go with Zus between Sharp and Hossa (assuming the latter is healthy himself) to start the season, but Pirri still has another opportunity to at least stay on the roster to start the season. Letting Pirri grow into the role in October seems far more ideal than taking tread off of Handzus’ tires this early, but Q needs his blankie.
One positive development is that winger Maxim Shalunov has chosen assignment in Rockford over returning to Traktor Chelyabinsk, which makes one question just how terrible living in Russia actually is. But this indicates a follow-through on his previously stated desires to come to North America as soon as possible to learn the game and be a pro here. And given what he’s put on display at international tournaments, his projectable size and natural scorer’s skill set, having him at beckon call from Rockford only increases the Hawks organizational depth.
It’s also a good thing that Brad Winchester and Theo Peckham aren’t on the opening night roster, as they bring little to the table other than being face punching turds, and the Hawks already have one too many of those.
And all the while, Kyle Beach still remains the highest pick from the 2009 draft yet to make his NHL debut.
So that leaves Smith, Morin, Hayes, Pirri, Kostka, Nordstrom, and Stanton with an opportunity to make the club. Smith and Hayes seem like locks, and their play has certainly merited that status. It seems unlikely both Kostka and Stanton would stay given the 7 NHL defensemen already in camp, and it would have to be at Pirri’s expense if they did. And though Nordstrom has shown quite a bit this camp, his time might not be now.
Once these final decisions are made, all that’s left is for Quenneville to sort out the lines for the 10 minutes he keeps them together a week from tonight.