The Blackhawks training camp is officially underway and with two scrimmages in the books, early candidates for roster spots are starting to distinguish themselves.
On the offensive side, Igor Makarov is the first prospect to throw his name into the ring. An almost Rockford certainty in the summer, Makarov has come to camp with the idea of giving the Hawks staff a difficult decision. Following the prospects tournament which saw him lead the team in scoring, Makarov leads all players in scoring for the scrimmages. Whatever that means.
It’s still waaaayyy too early to start penciling Makarov into this year’s top 9, but if he continues the stellar play against other competition, he will most certainly break camp with the big boys. If you’re looking for a reason to watch a few minutes of a pre-season game, there’s one.
Makarov’s chief competition will likely be with Ryan Potulny and Jack Skille. The good thing about that is their salaries are nearly identical so money will be no object in the debate. (But then Potulny’s main competition to make the team is probably Jake Dowell as Potulny could find himself playing a 4th line center. Round and round it goes.)
Defensively, Nick Boynton and John Scott are shoo-ins. Jordan Hendry will have to play himself off the roster, at least in terms of breaking with the team, but his leash could be a short one as Ivan Vishnevskiy has also impressed thus far. Again, it’s still very early but it’s another battle worth watching.
Ultimately, the most important part of the pre-season is getting out of it unscathed. Last year, they lost Adam Burish for the majority of the season, Kris Versteeg played the first part of the season with a significant shoulder injury suffered in the pre-season, and Jonathan Toews nearly had a catastrophic knee injury.
The results of the games and how guys like Kane, Toews, Hossa, and Sharp look is arbitrary. Just make sure they have a pulse by October.
Wednesday night is the Hawks first pre-season game against Tampa Bay in Manitoba. The Hawks will likely release their roster for the game by Tuesday.