As the Blackhawks continue training camp, their eyes can now focus on the first preseason game of the 2017-18 season: tomorrow night in Columbus. Brandon Saad and Artemi Panarin will face players with whom they played only a few short months ago as the two clubs kick off their new season.
On Monday morning, the Blackhawks featured the following lines in practice:
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Richard Panik
Alex DeBrincat – Nick Schmaltz – Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp – Artem Anisimov – Ryan Hartman
Lance Bouma – Tanner Kero – John Hayden
Of course there are a lot of variables in play when considering the lineup for the first preseason game, but coach Joel Quenneville was pretty outspoken about Nick Schmaltz as his second-line center over the weekend. He was also noticeably excited when commenting about the potential of a line with phenom Alex DeBrincat on a line with Schmaltz and Patrick Kane.
But before fans start writing these lines in stone, let’s not forget other players in the mix for the roster. Veterans Tommy Wingels. Tomáš Jur?o and Jordin Tootoo have NHL contracts with the Blackhawks. David Kampf has come over from Europe with hopes of making the opening night roster. And prospects Vinnie Hinostroza, Kyle Baun and Laurent Dauphin all have NHL experience.
Certainly the Blackhawks’ cap situation will come into play when making final roster decisions, but the lines above certainly provide more hope for the Hawks’ ability to roll at least three lines with some offensive potential more regularly than last season.