Thomas Gibbons shares his thoughts from Tuesday night’s 8-6 loss vs. Detriot.
It’s just one game, but Cam Ward did not make a first impression in front of the home crowd. Everyone has a bad night and Ward let up six goals on 17 shots, 2 goals on the first two shots of the game from the Red Wings.
If Crawford cannot start the season, which looks like a reality, Ward is likely the man between the pipes. Anton Forsberg is another guy to keep in consideration as well. The Blackhawks still have two more games until the season opener. Forsberg will start Wednesday night vs. Ottawa. And I’d say there is a good chance Ward starts the preseason finale on Saturday.
Coach Joel Quenneville changed the lines up this week, and Tuesday night we got to see prospect Dominik Kuhn on the top line with Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews. Kahun, 23, averaged about a point a game last season in Germany scoring 12 goals and assisting on 29.
Kahun looks like he is here to stay. He has two goals and two assists this preseason and showed last night he played with two of the Blackhawks top forwards. He’s a great skater and his vision is superb.
As the Blackhawks continue to send players back to their junior teams or Rockford, Kahun is still here. Given the production, I think the Blackhawks keep the top line of DeBrincat-Toews-Kahun to start the season.
The Blackhawks assign Victor Ejdsell, Alexandre Fortin and Matthew Highmore to the IceHogs Wednesday morning. The most surprising name of the group is Ejdsell because Quenneville has been really high on him and his play in training camp has caught the eye of many.
But this can be tied back to Kahun. His emergence has shifted the lines and rightfully so. Ejdsell played well in the playoffs last season in the AHL and many expected him to solidify a top 9 role and possibly crack the top 6 forwards. But the Blackhawks have other plans.
I was a bit shocked this morning when I saw the roster moves. Ejdsell is a big body, 6′ 5″ 214lb, and you definitely want those in your lineup. I have been most impressed with his shot and I expected him to be a big contributor this season. But he has been quiet in the preseason and that does not fare well when you are fighting for a spot.
Edjsell’s demotion could also be linked to the emergence of Kampf and Marcus Kruger playing well at left wing. Quenneville has backed up his reasoning for moving Kruger out to the wing and he’s had nothing bad to say about his performance.
Lastly, I think Ejdsell will eventually get his shot to play in the NHL full time. He, along with the first round pick, was the centerpiece of the Ryan Hartman deal to Nashville last year. His time will come.
As reported by Scott Powers of the Athletic Chicago, Quenneville said after Wednesday’s practice that he expects to cut one more forward, defenseman, and goalie by the end of camp.
If I had to make a prediction, I’d expect Adam Boqvist, Colin Delia, and Andres Martinsen.
Boqvist is just not ready. He has really impressed the coaching staff through camp and in games, but he needs to be playing 25 minutes a night in London to continue his development. He’s super raw and he can getter bigger and stronger in developmental hockey.
Delia impressed in the playoffs last season with Rockford, but he is the odd man out. With Crawford likely starting the season on injured reserve, the Blackhawks will probably roll with Forberg and Ward. Delia could see some time later in the season but it’s huge for him to get better in Rockford because who knows, he could be the guy soon enough.
Lastly, Martinsen earned his time with the Blackhawks last season by being an enforcer on the 4th line. He is not going to light up the scoreboard but he does the little things well. If Luke Johnson continues to prove he belongs, Martinsen could be sent to Rockford.
John Hayden is another guy to watch for and he could be the odd man out. He could stick around and play on the fourth line instead of Martinsen because he has a better knack for scoring.
Here is my opening night lineup:
Ward(Crawford unlikely to be ready)