Every year on every team a player or two will surprise a coaching staff in the NHL preseason and earn a roster spot.
Last year for the Blackhawks, that player was undrafted defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk.
Who will it be this year?
While four scrimmages and two preseason games are not enough time to reach a conclusion, there are three players -- Daniel Paille, Bartlett's Vincent Hinostroza and Chris DeSousa -- who have impressed the coaching staff thus far.
Coach Joel Quenneville has spoken glowingly of all three over the last few days. Hinostroza and DeSousa definitely stood out Monday at the United Center during the team's Training Camp Festival, and Hinostroza carried that momentum into Wednesday's preseason game in Detroit.
"They've both had really good camps," Quenneville said. "You notice their quickness, you notice their speed.
"DeSousa, for a small guy, (is) more physical, more engaging. Vinny's got some quickness and a lot of speed. He's gotten better every day."
Here's a closer look at all three:
After Monday's intrasquad scrimmage, the 21-year-old Bartlett native admitted one of his lifelong goals was to play at the United Center, and "it was a bit of a shock" once he realized it was happening.
"That was a cool experience," he said, "and I hope I get to experience it a lot more."
Hinostroza, the Hawks' sixth-round pick in 2012, is on an entry-level contract that runs through the 2017-18 season. He played the last two seasons with Notre Dame, scoring 19 goals and adding 57 assists in 76 games.
As Quenneville said, what you notice most about Hinostroza -- who stands just 5-feet-9 -- is his speed. During one of the scrimmages Sunday at Notre Dame, he flew into the offensive zone, skated behind the net and found Brent Seabrook at the point with a perfect, pinpoint pass. Seabrook buried the shot.
Hinostroza also impressed Monday when he scored Team Red's second goal with a wicked wrist shot that found its mark.
Then, during Wednesday's 4-1 loss in Detroit, Hinostroza might have been the most impressive player on the ice for the Blackhawks. He created chances all night long and logged 16:13 of ice time, which included 2:43 on the power play and 2:44 when the Hawks were short-handed.
"He was hustling, and when he had the puck, he made smart decisions all over the ice," said WGN color man Troy Murray on the station's postgame show.
Said Hinostroza on Monday: "I'm obviously not the biggest guy out there. I think I can take advantage of some of the bigger players by using my speed and going around them. I think my vision comes into play -- once I beat them, I try to find my open teammates."
The 24-year-old out of Mississauga, Ontario, who spent most of the last four years playing for the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada, admitted that while he's trying to make the team, he realizes what he's up against.
"I mean, I'm not naive. I know what the chances are -- pretty much zero," DeSousa said. "But the goal is to come in, do your best, make an impression and force 'em to keep you around as long as possible."
The winger, who is signed with Rockford, appears to be doing exactly that.
DeSousa flashed his speed at Notre Dame by scoring on a breakaway, and he also scored the first goal for Team Red at the UC on Monday.
Oh, he also fought fellow prospect Pierre-Cedric Labrie, giving the quiet United Center crowd something to cheer about. DeSousa said Labrie chased him around the ice, under the (apparent) misconception that DeSousa tried to hit Labrie in the face.
"I would never try to do that to him," said DeSousa, who did not play in the first two preseason games. "But he wasn't happy about it. Myself, I'm not going to be bullied in any way. I'm not afraid to drop the gloves with anyone, so I took that option I was given."
A first-round pick in 2002, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound winger is in camp on a professional tryout basis. He spent the last six seasons with the Boston Bruins, averaging 8.3 goals and 7.5 assists a season.
Paille played in both preseason games, and showed his versatility by logging a combined 3:37 on the power play and 4:02 on the penalty kill.
Quenneville said he likes Paille's quickness and speed, and loves the experience he could bring to the ice.
"There's so many opportunities in different spots (defensively or on the penalty kill) that if someone wants to jump (out), he will definitely get some consideration," Quenneville said. "Being versatile is probably a great asset to have coming in when we have to make maybe the final decisions."
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