And here’s what it looks like:
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Richard Panik
Ryan Hartman – Nick Schmaltz – Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp – Artem Anisimov – Alex DeBrincat
Lance Bouma/Tommy Wingels – Tanner Kero – John Hayden
Not a lot of surprises here, though many – including us – would have preferred Hinostroza to Bouma (both financially and the quality of the player). DeBrincat and Hayden clearly played their way onto the roster for the opener, and the Hawks’ top nine looks vastly improved from last year. Indeed, a third line of Sharp, Anisimov and DeBrincat has a lot of intrigue heading into the season.
The player to watch in this group is Hartman, though. He’ll get the money spot with Schmaltz and Kane to begin the season, though DeBrincat showed some good chemistry on that line during the preseason. If Sharp is fully recovered, the Hawks should have an exciting offensive group this season.
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Gustav Forsling – Connor Murphy
Michal Kempny – Jan Rutta
Jordan Oesterle, Cody Franson*
Franson will have to wait until the rosters are final and Marian Hossa is placed on LTIR to get a contract, but it appears the Hawks will start the season with eight defensemen.
The guy to watch here is Rutta, who had a really good training camp. Coach Joel Quenneville compliment Rutta when the effort around him lacked on a couple occasions, and he’ll get some run with Kempny to open the season.
Murphy is adjusting to the Hawks’ style of play but he brings a big body the Hawks have needed on the blue line. Forsling and Seabrook will be an important pair, with everyone hoping Forsling takes another big step this year.
Forsberg is the next in line to back up Crawford between the pipes in Chicago, and he’ll get opportunities in Chicago that he’ll enjoy behind a better team than he’s had in the past.