The Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues was the final tuneup of the preseason prior to decisions being made for the 23-man roster headed to Pittsburgh for Tuesday’s regular season opener.
In the inaugural Blackhawks Stock Index, which will be a regular feature taking stock of roster players and prospects, it’s a look at who’s rising and falling with the ranks as the season goes on.
There will be repeat names and every now and then, a few value ones coming out of nowhere. For this edition, it’s a look before the final cuts are made.
Blackhawks Stock Trending Up
Isaak Phillips; MacKenzie Entwistle; Colton Dach; Alex Vlasic
Only Dach and Phillips seem to be the ones who will be headed to Rockford but it’s not because he didn’t play well enough. It’s more that a little more time to refine and strengthen his game more with the IceHogs seems the prudent move. Dach had a terrific camp and preseason. But the Blackhawks can afford the time to let him develop–why rush?
Phillips was also strong in his final showing–with some help from a performance by one of the player’s stock trending down. Vlasic got stronger as the preseason wore on. But of the two, it’s likelier that Vlasic sticks while Phillips, like Dach, begins in Rockford.
Entwistle’s highlight reel goal not only showcased what he is capable of, but in a way showed some mental toughness and resolve for a kid who had some rough luck on Tuesday. What better way to show you can handle something than coming back a few games later and burying a goal like that.
Kevin Korchinski; Wyatt Kaiser
I believe Korchinski is a lock and has been since his strong showing all the way back in the Memorial Cup. He held serve and showed what he’s capable of everytime he led a rush in the preseason and then hustled back to cut off an offensive threat the other way. His only option is to return to the junior ranks which would be wasteful. Instead, he can work in and out, have some days to observe when he’s not on the ice, and learn the ropes much like a very young Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook did many moons ago.
Kaiser had another strong game on Saturday night, jump starting a two-on-one chance that nearly resulted in a goal. His tape-to-tape pass was disrupted only by choppy ice–otherwise it’s likely he has an assist on the play. Kaiser might have been one of Chicago’s most consistent contributors during the preseason. Able to play both sides on defense, he seems a foregone conclusion to start in Chicago.
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He took a beating on social media and it was a tough night for the veteran. Often on the wrong side of the scoresheet, Zaitsev looked to struggle against the Blues roster that is as close to an opening night lineup as possible. It took a second and fourth-round pick for the Blackhawks to take his contract from Ottawa and he wasn’t exactly helping the argument that it was a desperation salary dump trade with sweeteners attached.
Maybe he can be a third pairing guy or perhaps he ends up being the seventh defenseman. But if Saturday’s showing is indicative of the norm, Zaitsev may not be in the lineup very often and perhaps off the roster at some point.