The first weekend of the Blackhawks’ training camp is here as the 63 players hit the ice this past week. Fans were excited to see forwards such as Jonathan Toews and Alexander Nylander back in action after they both missed all of last season. The exciting new additions Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury donned the black and red for the first time as well.
This year’s training camp will also help answer questions for Jeremy Colliton and the Blackhawks. The top six is fairly set in stone. Connor Murphy and Seth Jones are two defenders who will eat the most minutes while the tandem of Fleury and Kevin Lankinen could be one of the best goalie-duos in the league.
The questions arise at the bottom of the lineup. Will Dylan Strome be able to accept a bottom-six role? Who will replace David Kampf’s defensive abilities down the middle and who will be this season’s Brandon Hagel?
Here’s a list of potential breakout players in this season’s training camp who could compete for a roster spot in the coming years. We’ll start with the forwards.
24 year-old Henrik Borgstrom returns to North America after playing in his home country of Finland last season. The Florida Panthers drafted Borgstrom 23rd overall in 2016. He appeared in 58 games with the Panthers scoring nine goals and 10 assists. Borgstrom was part of a five-player trade between the Panthers and Blackhawks last April.
The 6’3 center has the tools to be a tremendous third-line center who brings plenty of skill along with physicality. Despite not producing at a high rate yet in the NHL, Borgstrom was a point-per-game player in his two seasons at Denver University and was named NCHC ‘Player of the Year’ his sophomore season.
Cam Morrison signed with the Blackhawks prior to the 2020-21 season, but sustained an injury in a preseason game with the Rockford IceHogs and missed the rest of the season.
As another 6’3 center, Morrison has yet to play in a professional game after spending four seasons at the University of Notre Dame. Morrison scored 95 points in 149 collegiate games. He plays a very physical style in all areas on the ice.
The Blackhawks need forwards willing to play a bottom-six role while also chipping in offensively from time-to-time. It may not happen this season, but Morrison could find himself in the NHL sooner than later.
Josiah Slavin returns for his second training camp with the Chicago Blackhawks. The seventh-round pick in 2018 spent 15 games with the IceHogs last season and turned heads right away, scoring in his debut.
Slavin finished with seven points, three goals and four assists, in Rockford and is hoping to fight for an NHL roster spot this season.
The 6’3 left-shooting winger is a player that can be relied on to play both sides of the puck. He may end up being better suited at the center position and could anchor a strong penalty-kill.
As the only player on this list who has appeared in a game with the Blackhawks, Wyatt Kalynuk brings a unique skillset on the backend. After signing with Chicago in July of 2020, Kalynuk appeared in 21 games with the team and fared well. Kaylnuk is a smooth skater and has good instincts for when to join the offense on the rush.
Where Kalynuk could improve the most is defending in his own end. He is part of a new wave of NHL defensemen who defend more with their feet than with physicality. If the 24 year-old defenseman can figure this out, then he could become a regular in the Blackhawks’ lineup.
The last player on this list stays with the trend and is another big body at 6’3. The Blackhawks selected Phillips in the fifth round of the 2020 draft and spent last season in Rockford. He quickly became an anchor of the IceHogs’ defense and transitioned well into the professional game. He was awarded ‘Rookie of the Year’ and has all the confidence in the world heading into this years’ training camp.
Phillips is a modern day NHL player. He finds gaps and uses his instincts to produce offensively while not being a liability in his end. With the way he has been trending over the past year, no one would be surprised if he found himself making his NHL debut sometime this season.
The start of the 2021 NHL season is right around the corner. The Blackhawks’ training camp is sure to be an exciting time watching the new forwards get acclimated. There is a lot to be excited for as a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and these players could play a large role.