Two days in advance of the team leaving for Edmonton for at least a qualifying round starting Aug. 1 against the Oilers, the Blackhawks finalized the 31 players on their 52-person traveling roster.
The Blackhawks didn’t reveal their roster until Sunday, opting to let the four players cut from their training camp roster to participate in the final practice and intra-squad scrimmage Saturday. Chicago will bring 11 extra players (five forwards, four defensemen, two goaltenders) on top of its normal 21-man roster.
Goaltender Corey Crawford (COVID-19) and defenseman Connor Murphy (groin) were both included on the roster after missing parts of training camp. Crawford missed all but the final day of training camp while recovering from the coronavirus. Murphy missed six practices, but was a full-participant in the practice and scrimmage Saturday.
“Obviously there’s not much time but I’ve never really been someone that skates a ton in the summer anyway,” Crawford said Saturday. “I feel like it takes a few practices just to get your legs under you. It doesn’t really matter what you do in the gym, but today felt decent for the first time on the ice and I’m just going to try and build off of that.”
One roster cut was already known before Friday’s deadline as defenseman Brent Seabrook announced he would not be part of the roster because he didn’t feel comfortable on the ice after three surgeries (right shoulder, both hips) during the regular season. The other three cuts were forward Reese Johnson, defenseman Chad Krys and goaltender Matt Tomkins, all of whom were with the second group in camp.
The expanded roster includes forwards MacKenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel (the Rockford IceHogs’ leading goal-scorer and 2019-20 MVP), Philipp Kurashev, John Quenneville and Dylan Sikura; defensemen Nicolas Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Alec Regula and Nick Seeler; and goalies Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen.
Regula, who offers plenty of size at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, is the most surprising inclusion as he was the only player in camp without professional experience. He finished his junior career this year with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League as one of the OHL’s top scoring defenseman with 60 points (27 goals, 33 assists) in 56 games. The Blackhawks signed him to an entry-level contract in November after he was acquired from the Red Wings for Brendan Perlini in October.
Entwistle and Kurashev have yet to receive an NHL call-up, while Lankinen had a few this past season but did not play. Lankinen was given a four-to-five month recovery timeline after he had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on March 5.
Kurashev, a fourth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft by Chicago, is the most likely among that trio to get into a game. The left-handed center that played at wing sometimes this season had 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 36 games despite missing 25 games due to a concussion from late December to late February.
Krys played at forward and on defense during scrimmages. He played a few AHL games on the wing this past season with the IceHogs dealing with several injuries to their forward corps. Johnson showed some speed and offensive skills in scrimmages, including a goal Saturday. Tomkins, who was viewed as the No. 3 AHL goaltender this past season, was the lone goalie in camp that did not rotate in with the main group.
Alex DeBrincat — Jonathan Toews — Brandon Saad
Alex Nylander — Dylan Strome — Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik — Kirby Dach — Drake Caggiula
Ryan Carpenter — David Kampf — Matthew Highmore
Brandon Hagel — Philipp Kurashev — Dylan Sikura
John Quenneville — MacKenzie Entwistle
Duncan Keith — Adam Boqvist
Calvin de Haan — Connor Murphy
Olli Maatta — Slater Koekkoek
Nicolas Beaudin — Lucas Carlsson
Nick Seeler — Alec Regula