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Alex DeBrincat sent to AHL, but he’ll be back for Blackhawks’ season opener

The Chicago Blackhawks have finalized their roster for the first day of the 2017-18 season by sending Alex DeBrincat, Gustav Forsling, Tomas Jurco, and J.F. Berube to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. The team also placed forward Jordin Tootoo on long-term injured reserve in an unexpected twist.

Now you might be wondering why DeBrincat and Forsling were reassigned if they supposedly made the Blackhawks out of training camp. The answer is that these moves are a bunch of paperwork designed to maximize the cap space flexibility that will afforded by placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve.

As Cap Friendly explained it Tuesday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has actually executed this situation masterfully. By placing Rozsival and Tootoo on LTIR now, they’re allowed to go over the cap by a certain amount for the first day of the season.

So instead of pushing to get as close to the $75 million upper limit as possible to max out Hossa LTIR exception, they’re already over the cap with the Rozsival/Tootoo LTIR exception. This means they’ll get the maximum $5.275 million from placing Hossa on LTIR, which will allow the team to make a whole bunch of moves on Thursday. That’s some good salary cappin’ to me.

At 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Blackhawks will submit their official roster for Wednesday. Here’s what that looks like:

Forwards: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik, Lance Bouma, John Hayden, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, Patrick Sharp, Tommy Wingels, Tanner Kero, Jordin Tootoo (LTIR)

Defensemen: Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta, Michal Kempny, Jordan Oesterle, Michal Rozsival (LTIR)

Goalies: Corey Crawford, Anton Forsberg

With Rozsival and Tootoo on LTIR, that team will have a total cap hit of $75,334,795, per Cap Friendly. So when Hossa is then placed on LTIR on Wednesday, the Blackhawks will get an exception of $5.275 million to go over the salary cap during the regular season.

Once that happens, you can expect a couple things to go down. DeBrincat and Forsling will be brought back up from Rockford. Defenseman Cody Franson, who was in camp on a professional tryout deal, will presumably sign a one-year contract. There’s been word that it’s worth just $1 million, which would be so cheap he could be fully buried in the AHL if needed. So I see zero issue with taking the shot there.

But anyone worried that the Blackhawks have suddenly flipped on the DeBrincat/Forsling decisions doesn’t need to be worried. By all accounts, this is just part of Bowman’s smart cap maneuvering as explained above.

Here’s it a bit more strongly from NBC Sports Chicago’s Tracey Myers:

So it appears we have our 2017-18 Blackhawks now that Hossa can officially go on LTIR on Wednesday. It’s everyone on the roster now, plus DeBrincat, Franson, and Forsling once the new cap space is freed up. Then the real games begin after a busy summer for the team’s cap expert.