With training camp already underway, the Blackhawks look toward their first preseason game vs St. Louis for roster insight.
These games will give prospects a chance to display their skills in an attempt to take a roster spot.
The opening night lineup has not been established this early on, yet there are few debates as to who will make it.
There is little debate as to what the forward group will look like this year due to the amount of non-waiver exempt players on the roster.
Here is the current projection of the Blackhawks’ 2022-23 opening night forward group made by Scott Powers of The Athletic:
Newcomers Colin Blackwell, Max Domi, and Andreas Athanasiou will each have the chance to make an impact. Spread amongst the lineup, each player is in a position that best suits their particular skill set.
Every player displayed in that lineup is non-waiver exempt. Meaning that if the Blackhawks were to send any of those forwards down to the minors, other teams would have the chance to claim them.
Some may find themselves in Rockford at a point in time. But for now, it is safe to say they will be in attendance on opening night.
This lineup still proposes the question, where will touted prospects like Lukas Reichel be?
In Rockford where they should be. Here, they will be given all the time in the world to learn and develop. Kirby Dach is a prime example of what happens when you try to rush a prospect who isn’t ready.
This could be surprising to some. But it is best in the long run.
Kyle Davidson and Luke Richardson cannot, and will not, make that mistake.
The prospects will enhance their skills and be brought up when the time is right. Until then, this will most likely be your 2022-23 Blackhawks forward group.
Like the forward group, there is little question as to who will make the roster on defense. As it stands, this is the most likely outcome:
C. Jones – S. Jones
J. Johnson – Murphy
Stillman – Regula
Two names that did not make the list due to injury are Jake McCabe and Ian Mitchell.
McCabe is non-waiver exempt and obviously a full-time NHLer, so he will slide in when he fully recovers from his herniated disk surgery.
Mitchell will most likely battle for a roster spot with the likes of Alec Regula, Riley Stillman, and Caleb Jones. Time will tell, but Mitchell will have a great chance to prove his worth to the new regime once recovered from his wrist injury.
Jack Johnson will come in to provide some stability to a rather younger group of players. His leadership skills could prove to be worthwhile during the dog days of the season.
The Blackhawks find themselves with an entirely new goaltending tandem. Two established veterans join the team and both are coming off of the type of season they weren’t expecting.
There is no debate when it comes to who will be the starting goalie. Petr Mrazek has shown he is capable of taking the reins when he is healthy.
Alex Stalock will be the backup to Mrazek when he is healthy. Like Mrazek, Stalock struggled with injuries as well after the 35-year-old only appeared in one NHL game last year.
When required due to injuries, the next man up would be Arvid Soderblom.
The 23-year-old will be the full-time starter for Rockford but will be the next man up whenever a goaltender is injured. I expect to see plenty of Soderblom this season.
Soderblom posted a 2.76 goals against average and 0.919 save percentage in 38 games with the Icehogs last year.
The Plan? Fool Everyone
This group will take the ice with the expectation of doing something Chicago was not accustomed to over the last 12 years.
The season of #TankForBedard will be one that we all hope to soon forget. He is a generational talent, but it will come with a cost. Everyone has truly written this team off.
Well, not everybody.
New Head Coach Luke Richardson made it very clear that he will not let this dressing room grow comfortable with a losing culture.
“I told Kyle (Davidson) right off the hop that we’re going to make his job the toughest job possible and try to win as much as possible.”
Every fan should see this quote, this mentality, and absolutely love it.
Organizations have been burned to no end when attempting to tank for a high draft pick. In my mind, the “losers” mentality creates a culture that cannot be fixed without regime change.
The ultimate goal cannot be lost in a rebuild, and Richardson is here to make sure that doesn’t happen.
This team has the chance to surprise people. This leadership group will comply with the expectations of the media, and they shouldn’t.
This season will be interesting and tomorrow will give us our first taste of Blackhawks hockey this year.