So, are you ready for camp?
This is going to be an interesting camp. With recent additions of : Sami Lepisto, Steve Montador, Sean O'Donnell, Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers and Rostislav Olesz (trade swap for Brian Campbell), the Hawks have added the grit to their blue line (will be much appreciated by their core stars e.g. Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp), and they got rid of the stranglehold contract of Brian Campbell and replaced it with a promising Rostislav Olesz. The jury is still out on Olesz, for he was a very high 1st round draft pick who hasn't filled in those shoes with results. Hopefully a new address will change the outcome.
The team is pretty much solidified and that means Kyle Beach, Mark McNeill, Ben Smith, Brett McLean, Jeremy, Igor Makarov, Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin and Marcus Kruger will fight for the last 2 offensive spots........Kruger and Smith holding those honors during the playoff run last year. On the defensive side, John Scott is the odd man out with Lepisto, Montador, O'Donnell filling the 5th, 6th, 7th defenseman roles to a pretty solid defensive core (Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Leddy). This also means, that deserving players (e.g. Brian Connelly, Shawn Lalonde, Ryan Stanton) will be the odd men out. The Hawks will want to take a good look at these players for call ups in case of injuries. I am very interested in seeing these players in camp:
1) Jeremy Morin: This kid has so much upside and could get a few more call ups during the year.
He is my personal favorite prospect because on half of the NHL teams, he'd crack that roster spot. But, the Hawks are extremely deep.
2) Ben Smith: If this kid plays like he did in the playoffs,....he'll tie up a roster spot. I like this kid a lot.
3) Kyle Beach: Can he finally crack into the NHL. With the addition of Carcillo and Mayers, it doesn't appear likely this year. Can he or will he be used as trade bate? We'll see.
4) Phillip Danault: I want to see what this kid brings. Is he the next Jonathan Toews?
5) Jimmy Hayes: This is a big kid who will play the year in Rockford, but is his game NHL ready?
6) Dylan Olsen : Lot has been said about this kid. His work ethic and workout regiment. He won't make the team, but is he about a year or two from cracking that roster spot?
7) Igor Makarov: He had an impressive camp last year, but didn't make the roster. Then he had a less than impressive year in Rockford. That isn't going to help his case.
8) Mark McNeill: Yes ! This kid truly is trying to make the roster and is trying to do what he can to make a mark. Let's see if he can overtake that last roster spot (over Markus Kruger). I like this kid. Less than a 20% chance of cracking that roster, but...we'll see..
9) Andrew Shaw: Grit, grit, grit. I can't wait to see what he does.
10) Brandon Pirri: He made the roster for a few games last year. Will he do the same this year?
11) Shawn Lalonde: Oh boy.... I don't see a spot opening for him. But, I hope he stays aggressive and makes management think of him for call ups during the year. I've been high on him and hope he doesn't disappoint.
12) Andrew Brunette: he's already on the team, but I want to see him play with the top 6.
13) Rostislav Olesz: what is this kid made of? The Hawks didn't make a mistake getting rid of Campbell irregardless of Olesz' outcome, but it would be a nice bonus if this kid could play.
14) Daniel Carcillo: Show me whatcha got kid! Can he prevent being a 'car bomb' all the time?
15 & 16) Ray Emery vs. Alexander Salak: This will be a greak camp to see if Ray Emery has what it takes to be Corey Crawford's back up. What does Salak bring this camp? Who wants to make the team more? I can't wait for this match up.
17) Sami Lepisto: Can he replace Chris Campoli? He knows how to score. Let's see if he can continue being an offensive defenseman in the NHL with the Hawks.
18 & 19) Ryan Stanton and Brian Connelly: I am grouping these two kids together. They both don't have an opportunity to make the team, but they are both really good players who should get a crack at the NHL sometime. I want to see what they bring.
20) Marcus Kruger: We need a centerman, can he earn it?
So, as you can see, I am excited for the start of the season. Are you?