The Blackhawks play their first exhibition game tonight against Tampa Bay in Winnipeg and here are the things I'm interested to see during the course of the eight-game preseason.
- Are Igor Makarov, Kyle Beach and Jeremy Morin ready to play in the NHL? They've had great training camps so far, but now it matters. These guys can put the puck in the net, but they've also got to show coach Joel Quenneville they are responsible on the defensive side of the puck. Morin still has another year of junior eligibility so that could factor into his situation.
- There's a roster spot waiting for Jack Skille and he needs to seize the moment, especially with Makarov, Beach and Morin breathing down his neck.
- Defenseman Nick Leddy was really poised in the scrimmages playing with Duncan Keith. The Hawks are very high on the 19-year-old, who has all the tools to play in the NHL. While Leddy might start the year in Rockford he could become a regular at the United Center before too long.
- Marty Turco starts tonight in goal against the Lightning and will play half the game. I think everyone wants to see how he is going to mix with his new teammates.
- I want to see how fast Viktor Stalberg is and whether he has the skill to play on the top two lines.
- I like Jake Dowell's style and attitude and want to see if he can be that annoying type of player who gets under the skin of the opposition on this level.
- I want to see what Fernando Pisani and Ryan Potulny are going to bring to the table. Pisani has been very good in scrimmages and was an underrated all-around player in Edmonton when he was healthy.
Quenneville brought 27 players to Winnipeg so not everyone is going to dress. Makarov, Beach, Morin, Leddy, Skille, Dowell and Stalberg all made the trip.