Blackhawks

Defending champion Blackhawks reveal loaded roster for Traverse City prospect tournament

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AP

Defending champion Blackhawks reveal loaded roster for Traverse City prospect tournament

Before officially getting into the swing of things for the 2018-19 campaign, the Blackhawks will get a chance to view their top prospects in a game-type setting — several of them for the first time — against other high-end prospects across the NHL when they participate in the Traverse City tournament from Sept. 7-11.

The Blackhawks roster includes 25 players (14 forwards, eight defenseman and three goaltenders) of drafted players, signees and amateur tryout invitees, highlighted by 2018 first-round picks Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin, 2017 first-round selection Henri Jokiharju and prospects Victor Ejdsell, Blake Hillman and Dylan Sikura, all three of whom got a brief taste of the action in Chicago last season.

The tournament serves as an opportunity for these players to make a strong impression heading into training camp, which Alex DeBrincat did a year ago when he led the Blackhawks to the title after scoring five goals in four games, including the overtime winner in the clincher.

"It's good for their development," Rockford head coach Jeremy Colliton, who will serve as the team's bench boss for the second straight year, said after last year's tournament. "You want to play in games that mean something. Yeah, it's a rookie tournament everyone's going to forget likely tomorrow, but we want to win everything we do. We want to compete like it's life or death in everything we do."

The tournament consists of eight teams split into two divisions of four. Each team plays each other once in a round-robin format before squaring off on Tuesday, Sept. 11 to determine the final tournament ranking, with the winners of each division meeting in the championship game on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Check out the full Blackhawks roster below:

How Blackhawks can beat Oilers with 'wealth of success' in qualifying round

How Blackhawks can beat Oilers with 'wealth of success' in qualifying round

Training camp is set to begin on Monday, and before long, the Blackhawks will be heading to Edmonton to take on the Oilers in a best-of-five play-in series beginning Aug. 1 under the NHL's 24-team playoff format.

NHL Network analyst and former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes helps us break down the matchup.

"One thing that's important for the Hawks, they've got superheroes in their group," Weekes told NBC Sports Chicago over the phone. "Obviously in (Leon) Draisaitl and Connor (McDavid) those guys are superhero players. ... Let's be clear, those guys have two Hart trophy candidates on their team, the Oilers. And they've really improved as a team. They're a more complete team, their special teams are both in the Top 5: power play, penalty kill. (Head coach) Dave Tippett's done a masterful job. 

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"I had a chance to speak to them when they were here at Madison Square Garden playing the Rangers, they've got a lot more experience: James Neal coming there, Mike Smith coming there, guys that know Dave Tippett (and) played for him in Dallas. You know the Great 99, Wayne Gretzky, I spoke with him numerous times about their team. He's excited about their team, literally gitty based on how much of a team they are. Let's say that, I'm just going to position their team and give them their due. 

(And now the fun part.)

"With that being said, the Chicago Blackhawks have future Hall of Famers in their group and I always said, 'It's hard for me to justify betting against superheroes.' And that being (Patrick) Kane, who's going to go down as the best American-born player ever, passes 1,000 points, three-time Cup champ. I can go on and on about Kaner and then same thing for Jonathan Toews. Duncs (Duncan Keith) can still play at a high level and still play in the first pair and (Brent) Seabrook is close to returning I understand from three surgeries, which is wild, which is a huge testament to him, who he is as a person and his determination and his professionalism. 

Related: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook practices for first time since surgeries

"When you have those guys that have seen that and have experienced that and have been through that and all the international success that they have, that's a wealth of success that those guys have to their credit, same thing for Corey Crawford. So knowing how to navigate a Stanley Cup playoff and not being fazed by the big stage... As I asked Jonathan Toews, I had him on my Instagram probably a month ago, I asked Tazer, 'What is it about winning?' Honestly, he wins at walking down the street, he's won at every level, every single level. 

"So there's something to be said for that swag, that belief, that experience and he's unlocked the code. They have guys in their group that have unlocked the code numerous times. So that to me, is helpful. And especially when you're playing remotely and you don't have the benefit of the great crowd at the United Center, you don't have that 22,000 and the thunderous roars in your building, which is a huge advantage. 

Related: How will long layoff affect goalies in NHL's 24-team postseason?

"But, to be fair, Edmonton won't have their crowd either. They'll have their rink, they'll be in their home city, but they won't have their crowd physically in their building. Although, it's a newer building so I think that kind of neutralizes things a bit in terms of a home ice advantage so to speak."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Potential problems in the NHL bubble?

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Potential problems in the NHL bubble?

Gordon Wittenmyer, Scott King and Nick Shepkowski join Kap on a Thursday edition of STL.

0:00 - MLB teams continue their preparations for the 2020 season. So, is there hope that the league has finally gotten past its testing issues?

4:00 - A hospital in Edmonton had to close its doors because of a COVID-19 outbreak. That city is expected to host one of the NHL’s bubbles. Should the league be concerned?

8:30 - Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel joins Kap. Will we have major college football in the fall? And will the NFL be able to play through the pandemic?

19:30 - The panel weighs in on the possibility of major college football this fall.

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