ANALYSIS: MacKenzie Entwistle deserves to make the opening night roster

  

When the Stanley Cup is hoisted, you immediately think of the stars of the team who helped make it possible. Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to go back to back, something that has only been done one other time (Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017) since the Detroit Red Wings accomplished the feat in 1997 and 1998. The stars were of course goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, defensemen Victor Hedman and forwards Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos. However, the Cup was won with the help of depth players like Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde, Pat Maroon and former Blackhawk Jan Rutta. The importance of role players owning their role and taking the pressure off the stars is crucial. 

Some of my favorite role players during the Blackhawks’ Cup runs were Antoine Vermette, Johnny Oduya, Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer. Reminiscing is fun and all, but back to the story. 

What relevance does any of this have to MacKenzie Entwistle? I see him as a hard-nosed, bring-his-lunch-pail-to-work-every-day kind of contributor who can help a team win games. Now, putting him in a class with the players above is definitely premature, but who says he cannot contribute like them. So far in training camp and the preseason, Entwistle has proven he can be an everyday NHL player and is building chemistry with teammates to help his case. 

On Tuesday, the Blackhawks split into two groups, with the following lineup being considered the “NHL guys.” 

Entwistle has earned the shot. Alexander Nylander and Dylan Strome are on the outside looking in, especially Nylander, who was with what looked like their potential AHL group. Seniority should not matter. The Blackhawks’ so-called “rebuild” was short lived. General Manager Stan Bowman made moves this offseason to compete for the playoffs. If players like Nylander and Strome cannot offer their talents, others like Entwistle and defenseman Jakub Galvas will be given their shot. 

With opening night on the horizon, roster decisions will be final pretty soon. It is getting pretty late in the game for Nylander and Strome to make an impression. If they have not won over the hearts of the coaching staff by now, it is likely too late. 

I have liked Entwistle for quite some time. While the Blackhawks have been a poor team the past few seasons, the next best thing to keep up with is prospects and the AHL squad. In 22 games with the Rockford IceHogs last season, the 22-year-old posted 12 points (four goals, eight assists). From my perspective, Entwistle is your ideal hard-nosed forward. 

He does the little things, crashes the next, gets pucks into the zone and whatever else has been asked of him. Furthermore, he showed some chemistry with linemates Adam Gaudette and Brandon Hagel, two more guys who are expected to have solidified roles. So, why not keep the group together and have them bring that chemistry into the regular season? 

Entwistle is my kind of hockey player. He shows up on the ice every day ready to fight and claw for ice time. Nothing is going to be handed to anyone in this league, and Entwistle has been well aware of that since joining the Blackhawks organization. If Colliton is going to take a flier on someone for the opening night roster, Entwistle deserves it. We will find out soon enough. 

Center Ice Forums ANALYSIS: MacKenzie Entwistle deserves to make the opening night roster

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