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Blackhawks Tue Sep 24 2013

Blackhawks Trim Roster Size to 28

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With just a week to go until NHL teams need to set its opening-day roster size to 23, the Blackhawks made some headway by getting its team down to 28. The last few weeks have been a make-or-break trial period for many of the fresh faces (and even some older ones) to stay east of Rockford and into the everyday lineup for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Just yesterday, according to the team's site, the Blackhawks sent forwards Mark McNeil, Garret Ross and Alex Broadhurst; defensemen Dylan Olsen, Klas Dahlbeck and Adam Clendening; and goaltender Kent Simpson to Rockford. Much-talked about forward Teuvo Teräväinen was sent to Jokerit of SM-liiga in Finland while forward Ryan Hartman was sent over to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers; Viktor Svedberg was released from camp.

That brought the roster size to 36, but in the past 24 hours, the team trimmed even more to fall in line with NHL regulations.

According to the Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus (@marklazerus), the Blackhawks cut eight more players from its rosters size, which included Drew LeBlanc, Terry Broadhurst, Phillip Danault, Byron Froese, Brad Mills, Maxim Shalunov and Antti Raanta. All the while, the team also put Brad Winchester and Theo Peckham on waivers for anyone to claim.

Speaking of waivers, Kyle Beach cleared through earlier today and was then sent over to Rockford. So after the lockers are cleaned out, that leaves only five more spots to cut if Joel Quenneville and staff want to stick with the maximum of 23 spots (the minimum is 20, but odds are the Blackhawks will stick with 23 for now).

For the most part, having a tough time deciding who gets the pink slip and who makes dinner reservations at Chicago Cut is a good problem to have. That's going to happen with a deep team which happened to win the ultimate prize twice in four years.

With that said, according to reports, the odds are the five remaining cuts might come from these seven players: Michael Kostka and Ryan Stanton, and forwards Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, Joakim Nordstrom, Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith.

Pirri is making a case to become the team's second-line center, but missing the first four games due to a lower-body injury has prevented more pre-season ice time for last year's scoring leader in the AHL. It might be a safe bet to send Pirri to Rockford to take it easy on the injury and not push matters, while 36-year-old Michal Handzuš starts in that slot for the home opener.

With one more pre-season game left on the docket, and four days to get there, the Blackhawks will continue to evaluate its needs on what makes sense at this current time. With such a short off-season, as well as taking into mind the Olympics in Sochi this year, the team needs to make sure to protect its big guns from fatigue and injury down the road. That means deciding which players make more sense playing today.

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