We're just days away from finding out what the Blackhawks' roster is going to look like, but we got some big clues at practice Friday, and we'll know even more after the final preseason game against Boston at the United Center on Saturday.
"Looking at our roster tomorrow night, we should have a real good lineup," Quenneville said. "We liked our lines today in practice as well. So a lot of those guys will be getting some familiarity with one another."
And since the final preseason game is often used as a sneak peek to opening night, it's beginning to look like Alex DeBrincat just might make this team. The 19-year-old scored a goal Thursday in Detroit and had a second wiped out after goalie interference was ruled on Richard Panik.
This kid has looked like he belongs since Day 1.
So don't be surprised if the Hawks' top three lines look like this come Thursday when they open the season against Pittsburgh at the United Center:
• Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
• Patrick Sharp-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane
• DeBrincat-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Hartman
Now, who fills out the rest of the team? Well, Friday the fourth line was Lance Bouma, Tanner Kero and John Hayden.
Jordin Tootoo, Tomas Jurco, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tommy Wingels all skated outside the top 12.
The guess here is -- even though the Hawks don't like to do it -- they might carry eight defensemen: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Connor Murphy, Michal Kempny, Gustav Forsling, Cody Franson, Jordan Oesterle and Jan Rutta.
Rutta has played well and seems like a lock, while Forsling, Franson and Oesterle have all done enough to stick around.
If the Hawks disagree and keep just seven D-men, they could send Forsling to Rockford, release Franson from his PTO or place Oesterle on waivers and hope nobody claims him.
Back to the forwards, if DeBrincat and Hayden start the season in Chicago, just one or two slots remain for Tootoo, Jurco, Hinostroza and Wingels (only Hinostroza is waivers exempt). A second or third slot opens up if the Hawks send DeBrincat or Hayden to Rockford.
Tough decisions for sure. And we'll see what GM Stan Bowman, Quenneville and his coaches decide soon enough.
Pokka on waivers:
The Hawks placed Ville Pokka on waivers Friday. If the 23-year-old defenseman clears, he will likely be assigned to Rockford.
"I thought he had a really good camp and thought he made progress," said coach Joel Quenneville. "He exited here with a positive evaluation and put himself in a good spot. We like how he played in the two exhibition games. Gives us some depth and we'll see what happens."
Pokka had 6 goals and 24 assists with the IceHogs last season.
Forwards Laurent Dauphin and David Kampf, and defenseman Erik Gustafsson were assigned to Rockford. … Corey Crawford is expected to start in net for the Hawks' preseason finale against Boston at the United Center on Saturday.