The reigning Stanley Cup champions are returning a majority of the team that won it all in June.
That means roster spots for the 2013-14 season are sparse — just ask GM Stan Bowman.
“We’ve got probably six guys going for a couple spots, and may the best men get it,” Bowman told the Chicago Daily Herald. “We have a pretty consistent roster from last year, although there are some spots at forward that are open.”
A quick recap of who came and left Chicago this offseason…
INS: Nikolai Khabibulin, Mike Kostka, Theo Peckham, Brad Winchester
OUTS: Ray Emery, David Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg, Dan Carcillo
The ‘Hawks also re-upped with Niklas Hjalmarsson, Corey Crawford, Marcus Kruger, Michal Rozsival, Michal Handzus and Nick Leddy, ensuring a large core of role players from last year’s squad remained in place.
So…who’s in line for a job at forward?
Kyle Beach, the 11th overall pick in 2008, could finally be ready to make the leap. The 23-year-old power forward scored 16 goals with AHL Rockford last year (leading the team with 204 PIM) and could replace some of the sandpaper lost in the Bolland/Carcillo departures.
Another leading candidate for a job is 21-year-old Brandon Pirri, the club’s second-round pick at the ’09 Draft. Pirri led AHL Rockford in scoring last season (75 points in 76 games) and has seven games of NHL experience under his belt.
Speaking of NHL experience, the likes of Jimmy Hayes (41 gmaes), Ben Smith (20) and Jeremy Morin (15) should also make a push for a job.
On defense, there are fewer opportunities available. Hjalmarsson, Leddy, Rozsival, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya are entrenched as the top six.
Kostka, Peckham and Sheldon Brookbank have the most NHL experience in terms of depth guys, but one to keep an eye on is 20-year-old Adam Clendening, the club’s second-round pick from 2011.
He led all Rockford d-men in scoring last year, with 46 points.