The Blackhawks made their final wave of cuts after Saturday's preseason finale, assigning forward Dylan Sikura and goaltender Collin Delia to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
This puts the roster at 25 players: 13 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. The Blackhawks have until Tuesday, Oct. 2 by 4 p.m. CT to get to 23 or under, but are expected to place Gustav Forsling, Connor Murphy and Corey Crawford on injured reserve to accomplish that.
Sikura, who's still considered to be a prospect, played in five games with the Blackhawks last season straight out of college and flashed his potential by registering three assists. The assignment may feel like a demotion and is a difficult decision to make for the Blackhawks because of their need for depth scoring, but it shouldn't for several reasons outlined here.
Sikura recently spoke about the intense forward battle and what benefits going to Rockford may have on his game.
"I think sometimes when you're out there you just kind of overthink a few things," he said. "There's a lot thrown at you within these two weeks with the systems and everything and you kind of catch yourself thinking too much out there sometimes. I think you've just got to rely on your instincts and sometimes you've just got to play the game of hockey instead of systems and stuff like that."
"Obviously I want to stay here. This is the place I want to be. At this point it's tough to say what's going to happen. There's positives to both, obviously you see a guy like Vinnie [Hinostroza] last year go down and lit it up down in the [AHL] and come back up and sign a nice contract, so obviously there's some pros going to Rockford and you obviously want to play in the NHL. At the end of the day just control what I can control at this point."
In goal, Delia has made a strong case to be higher on the organizational depth chart but it's a little crowded with Crawford, Cam Ward and Anton Forsberg, the latter of whom would have to go through waivers if he were to be sent to Rockford.
The Blackhawks rewarded Delia's efforts by keeping him around as long as they could to continue working with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite and learn under the veteran Ward. His time may be coming soon.
"I think that's always the goal, to play at the highest level, so you prepare for that always," Delia told NBC Sports Chicago last week. "It's something that I visualize in my off time. If that's the case, that's great. And if not, I'll still keep developing, still keep progressing because at the end of the day that's really what it's all about, continuing to get better. When it's your time it'll be your time. Just be patient and trust that the organization has your best interest at hand and I think when you have that trust, it's reciprocated with myself and the organization."