MacKenzie Entwistle Should Make The Blackhawks Roster

The Blackhawks have plenty of roster decisions coming in the next few days. Stan Bowman had his most aggressive offseason to date, finally having cap space to play with and young pieces to integrate into his NHL roster.

The problem: Bowman overstocked his roster. Again.

Now the fight for ice time is going to leave a few worthy players in Rockford… unless Bowman can work out a trade (or three) to make room for the right players. Because, after all, if the goal is to win games, the best players should be on the NHL roster.

And what has become abundantly clear during the Blackhawks’ preseason games thus far is that MacKenzie Entwistle should be on the Blackhawks’ roster. He’s one of their 12 best forwards.

Here are Entwistle’s lines from his preseason games.

  • Preseason Game One vs Detroit — 10:22 TOI (0:25 PP), won 3 of 8 faceoffs, 1 assist, 2 shots, 2 hits, 2 PIM
  • Preseason Game Three vs St. Louis (the mystery game) — 1 goal, 1 shot (no box score)
  • Preseason Game Four vs Detroit — 10:55 TOI (1:35 SH), won 1 of 2 faceoffs, 2 goals, 2 shots, 2 hits, 1 takeaway
  • Preseason Game Five vs Minnesota — 15:20 TOI (1:21 SH), won 2 of 7 faceoffs, 1 shot, 1 hit
  • Total: 3 goals, 1 assist, 6 shots, 5 hits, won 6 of 17 faceoffs (35.3%)

OK, so maybe he’s not a center. The Blackhawks have too many bodies there already, so that isn’t a deal breaker.

On Thursday night against the Wild with a roster of mostly show-me players trying to earn a roster spot, head coach Jeremy Colliton increased his ice time by almost 50 percent from his two other games (with a box score). Minnesota, on the other hand, rolled out mostly their NHL roster.

Here’s what Colliton had to say about Entwistle and Brandon Hagel, who have looked really good together.

And here’s what Hagel had to say about Entwistle.

There’s confidence in how this young player is performing. And there should be.

Entwistle, who is still only 22 years old, was originally a third-round pick (#69 overall) by Arizona in 2017. The Blackhawks acquired his rights in the trade that sent Marian Hossa’s contract and Vinnie Hinostroza to the Coyotes in 2018. He was an intriguing prospect then because of his size (6-3, 180).

In his first professional season in Rockford (2019-20), Entwistle scored 11 goals with 15 assists in 56 games before the pandemic cut the season short. Last year he saw action in five NHL games with the Hawks and scored once with one assist. He looked young, but did not look out of place.

This preseason he has shown he’s ready for the NHL.

So… the obvious follow-up question is: who doesn’t make the roster so he can?

Here are the 12 forwards I would have on the Blackhawks’ roster for opening night:

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, Philipp Kurashev, Tyler Johnson, Ryan Carpenter, Adam Gaudette, Brandon Hagel, Henrik Borgstrom and Entwistle. I would keep Mike Hardman as the 13th forward.

The odd men out would be Dylan Strome, Alex Nylander and Jujhar Khaira.

Strome has been trade bait for a year and is still on the market. The question is whether or not the Blackhawks can make a deal of significance with a player who has some skill but just doesn’t fit Chicago’s current roster. He can still be a 40-50 point player in the right system; he has shown that in the past.

Nylander is still rehabbing from injury and just isn’t back at full strength yet. Colliton said it’s a tough decision with him because he’s healthy enough to be active but not there yet for an NHL roster spot. He would have to clear waivers to go to Rockford… if he isn’t traded. And someone might take a shot on Nylander for nothing if he does go on waivers.

The big question for a lot of the offseason and preseason has been where/how Khaira fits on the Hawks’ roster at the NHL level. He got a two-year deal from Bowman and his stat line shows lots of hits. OK, so he brings the sandpaper that some people crave.

My question has always been: does he do anything Hardman doesn’t? After watching the preseason, the answer to that is no.

Scott Powers at The Athletic did a great job of breaking down some of the financial drivers in the Blackhawks’ roster decisions in the coming days. How they weaponize their LTIR space with Andrew Shaw and the bonuses some of the prospects could be due will make for a few eyebrow-raising paper moves between now and the Blackhawks’ first game of the regular season.

But, again, if the goal is to have the best 12 forwards on the NHL ice, Entwistle should be one of those 12 players.

13 thoughts on “MacKenzie Entwistle Should Make The Blackhawks Roster

  • October 8, 2021 at 8:48 am
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    Couldn’t agree more he should make it and may, time will tell.

  • October 8, 2021 at 8:51 am
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    MacKenzie is a real good skater ! Playing in the show will only make him better ! We saw him play a few years ago with our Hamilton Bulldogs ! Pops 4

  • October 8, 2021 at 8:59 am
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    I know Colliton appears to be in love with Johnson as the center w/ Cat & Kane to start the season, but here’s how I would line the Hawks up on Opening Night:

    DeBrincat-Dach-Kane
    Kurashev-Toews-Kubalik
    Hagel-Borgstrom-Entwistle
    Johnson-Carpenter-Gaudette

  • October 8, 2021 at 9:00 am
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    We need a PK specialist who wins faceoffs !! Colton Scissons come on down

  • October 8, 2021 at 9:05 am
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    Although this seems like the most exciting thing to debate now, who the 12-14th forwards are on this team will not impact wins and losses this year much at all. Of much more significance is going to be how Toews and Dach play, and if Seth Jones performs like a number one defenseman, and if Kane’s injury hampers his production like it did the last quarter or so of last season.

    The team is deeper in the forward ranks for the first time in a long while. Unfortunately, that depth does not carry to the defensemen, as we still rely on an aging declining guy like Dehaan to play competent NHL defense, and borderline NHL guys like C Jones and Stillman to take a step forward in their careers, because we cannot get it from any of our young defensemen yet, even though we have many candidates among Mitchell, Beaudin, Galvas, Kalynuk, Regula.

    If even one of our young dmen could show that they can contribute positively and make an impact on the NHL team at both ends of the ice this season, that would go a long way towards a successful season.

  • October 8, 2021 at 9:33 am
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    Tab
    Completely agree on TJ … Not with 88/cat makes more sense to me.

    Hagel TJ Entwistle or Gaudette
    Is another line worth trying

    Khaira… 1st real look last nite by my eyes… I actually was surprised… he has some tools.
    Holds and mucks on boards pretty well. Would like to see more… before I form opinions on him.. but thought he was good.

    Dach looked solid last nite… saw some Panarin type handles… but still overdoses it at times. He would have more time and space w 88/cat .
    But kid looked better than late last season

    Hagel still drives play- awesome last nite

    Lankinen was great last nite

    Galvas was solid last nite

  • October 8, 2021 at 10:09 am
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    re: hereismike – regarding the defensemen

    I disagree that there isn’t depth on the blue line.
    Your top 3 – Seth Jones, McCabe & Murphy – are as good as the Hawks have had in years.
    The bottom 3 – de Haan, Caleb Jones, Stillman, Mitchell/Kalynuk – are good. There’s a lot to like about Caleb Jones and Stillman, which moves a solid veteran defenseman (de Haan) to the third pair, where he’s expensive but better than most third-pair defenseman in the league.

    The Blackhawks also have depth coming to replace anyone who gets hurt/traded. Mitchell, Beaudin & Regula got NHL run last year. Galvas has looked pretty good in the preseason, too.

    The cupboard isn’t empty. And let’s all keep in mind there need to be a couple trades before the regular season begins. Strome, Subban, Nylander are all guys who need new homes.

  • October 8, 2021 at 10:18 am
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    Stillman Dehaan the best pairing last night and looked it, Galvas should be fine as a limited minutes 3rd pair guy qbing 2nd pp unit, for a few weeks maybe longer, have to wait and see how that plays out. C. Jones showed he can play before getting injured, just need when games are for real, the big 3 of Jones, Murphy and McCabe to step it up a couple of notches to start earning their new contracts. Defense could be alot better than we expect. Goaltending seems solid and ready to go to start season.

    As noticeable as Strome was last night, thought he looked overmatched in his own end as a center doing his part trying to be 3rd dman, just don’t see how fits.

  • October 8, 2021 at 1:53 pm
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    Tep I’m on board with Big Mack making the team but he has to play not be an extra – so who sits? Khaira? Carp?

    However I don’t think Entwistle has earned 3 rd line yet – maybe with time but let him start on 4th line

    Agree that the current Kane line is too small

    Cat Dach Kane
    Kub Toews Kurashev
    Hagel TJ Borg (or flip TJ and Borg)
    Carp or Khaira Gaudette Entwistle

    I think Galvas will start as #6 D with Mitchell waiting as 7th D until Kalnyuk is back

  • October 8, 2021 at 4:20 pm
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    Those 12 plus Hardman are absolutely the right call. Strome and Nylander have had more than enough opportunity to deCharmanize and never will, and while I know little of Khaira do we really need an updated version of Tony Horacek?

  • October 8, 2021 at 7:41 pm
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    Wrap – I named the 12 forwards I would have in the lineup… Khaira can go to Rockford. I never understood that signing. He does nothing for me.

  • October 8, 2021 at 9:37 pm
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    I’ll stand up up for Strome. I thought he was one of the best Blackhawks players on the ice last night. If I recall, he won 55% of his face-offs, scored a goal and had at least one other shot on goal, and a takeaway as well. His passing skills are virtually unmatched on the team, and he’s dramatically improved his face-offs through his work over the summer. Collitan hasn’t given him much opportunity to play with skilled players this preseason.

    What do you all think we should get for him? Maybe a fourth round pick?

  • October 9, 2021 at 5:22 am
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    See Reichel playing 1C in Rfd. last night, got a couple assists. Could go something like.
    Cat. Dach. Kane
    Kub. Toews. Kurashev
    Hagel. Strome. Borgstrom
    Entwistle. T. Johnson. Gaudette
    Carp. Khaira

    When Strome moved a built in spot for Reichel, back with Hagel played well together in pre season. with Borgstrom able to play C too if needed.

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