A handy guide to who some of the most likely potential newcomers to the Blackhawks might be this year:
Kyle Beach #12
Drafted 1st by Chicago in the 2008 entry draft (11th overall), left winger Beach has consistently shown two things: skill and brawn. Unfortunately, he hasn't always shown brains, but after taking out a fellow prospect, Mathis Olimb, during this summer's prospect camp, somebody must've taken him aside for more than one chat, because he has been showing a lot more restraint in training camp and pre-season games. Still, don't expect Beach to be shy about dropping the gloves, and he's already picked up a penalty for boarding in the 9/24 pre-season game vs. Detroit. If he can stick to his game and show grit without being a meathead, he can be a good addition to the team. Update 10/1 - Assigned to Rockford
Brandon Bollig #52
Right winter Bollig signed with Chicago as a free agent this spring, coming from St. Lawrence University on a 2-year entry level contract. He's been working hard in prospect camp to earn a spot on the team, but landed in the penalty box in his first pre-season showing. Will be in Rockford
Brian Connelly #56
Signed as a free agent in 2009, defenseman Brian Connelly has played for the Rockford IceHogs for the past two years. He's looked very solid in training camp, but the remaining D-man spots are extremely competitive at this point. Update 10/1 - Assigned to Rockford
Corey Crawford #50
Goalie Corey Crawford has been patiently biding his time in Rockford for the last few seasons, last year barely losing out the backup goalie gig to newcomer Antti Niemi. This year, the gig is pretty much sewn up as all his. Last year in Rockford, he posted a .920 SV% and a 2.59 GAA but was almost evenly split in the games column (22-20-3). He's a big, athletic guy and fills the net; expect to see him post 15-25 games this year.
Jake Dowell #28
Another Rockford center, Dowell has been showing grit and determination in training camp. Has a pretty good shot of making the fourth line for the big club.
Shawn Lalonde #42
D-man Lalonde is another IceHog; he had a decent showing last year in Rockford and looked absolutely outstanding paired this summer at prospect camp with Nick Leddy. Has spent a lot of time in training camp paired with Jordan Hendry and Brent Seabrook. Update 9/26 - assigned to Rockford
Nick Leddy #37
The 19-year-old defenseman from Minnesota has made an outstanding mark for himself this summer, first in prospect camp, and now in training camp. Paired with Lalonde for most of prospect camp, the pair has been touted to be another possible Keith/Seabrook-level pairing. Although it's fairly unusual for D-men to break into the NHL this young - most tend to take on a bit more seasoning and enter the league around 21-22, Leddy's strong 2-way game and skills would make it very tempting to put him on the Blackhawks roster this year.
Igor Makarov #26
Right winger Makarov was a 2nd-round pick in 2006 and has most recently spent a couple years in the KHL. He's been impressive in training camp, able to move the puck well, and both scoring and racking up assists. Update 10/1 - Assigned to Rockford
Jeremy Morin #27
No buzz has been louder leading up to the regular season than the stir that left winger Jeremy Morin is creating. The key player coming from ATL in the Byfuglien/Eager/Sopel trade, Morin is showing why the Thrashers took him as a second round pick in 2009. Noticeable in prospect camp but outright turning heads in training camp/pre-season, expect Morin to have a bright hockey future. Update 10/5 - Assigned to Rockford
Brandon Pirri #14
Pirri is another prospect fighting for that 4th-line center spot; although it's not likely for him to make the Hawks this year. However, he's had very solid prospects and training camps, and we will likely hear more from him in the future. Update 9/25 - assigned to Rockford. 9/30 - Recalled to Chicago. Update 10/1 - Assigned to Rockford
Fernando Pisani #15
Right winger Pisani is one of two players coming from the Oilers (Potulny is the other), and is coming off a couple of health-plagued years. He's been quoted during the summer as feeling totally healthy, and his play has shown it, providing grit and drive when he's on the ice.
Ryan Potulny #16
Potulny is the center most likely to make the fourth line for the Blackhawks. He's split his NHL career between the Flyers and the Oilers, mainly alternating between the main clubs and their AHL affiliates, but last year he played the full season for Edmonton, putting together a decent 15 G, 17 A and 32 points in 64 games.
Jack Skille #20
Right winger Jack Skille seems to be at his make it-or-break it year in his career. He's spent the last few years with the IceHogs, occassionally being called up to the Blackhawks. While he put together a very good season for Rockford last year - 20 G, 25 A, 45 points - he may have been passed up on the depth charts by Makarov and Morin. A strong showing through the end of pre-season may change that.
Ivan Vishnevskiy #34
Vishnevskiy comes to Chicago as part of the Ladd trade. This baby-faced Russian defenseman played last season with the Chicago Wolves - ATL's AHL affiliate - and spent the previous two seasons as part of the Dallas Stars' system. While he has not yet shown any kind of breakthrough performance, he has looks pretty solid in camp. More likely for him to be in Rockford this season than Chicago. Update 9/25 - assigned to Rockford.