Two rookies remain on roster
After very stirring performances by Hawk prospect Brent McLean, he was sent down to Norfolk with promising Mikhail Yakubov, Igor Radulov, Kent Huskins and Steve McCarthy, as each will be asked to get just a little bit better before they are given jobs.
Tyler Arnason, along with Shawn Thornton and journeymen Garry Valk will fill the spots vacated by the losses of Daze and Fleury. One of these two may be returned to Norfolk when the missing veterans return.
Arnason scored 3 goals and an assist in 21 games last year and had an impressive camp offensively, earning a spot based on his continuing improvement and ability to play the wing.
Son of a former early draft choice, Chuck Arnason, of the Flin Flon Bombers #7 overall to Montreal in 1971, Tyler worked hard to get in shape to compete for a chance to stay on the major league roster and had good preseason outings. His strength at this time are his offensive value.
Big Shawn Thornton was acquired for Marty Wilford, probably the best defenseman on many a Indianapolis Ice team. Toronto wanted the older veteran minor league defenseman and gave the bigger, low scoring Thornton in trade. Thornton is a few months older than Arnason, and his game is along the wall. He has showed he also has some play making ability, and although he may be just a temporary fill, good showings will only help his cause. When the injured Hawks return, he may be the first one sent down.
Why did the Hawks sent down McLean because of his value as a steady face-off man at all previous levels of development. He may find his way back as the Hawk centers have not improved in the face off. The real concern is whether he can stand up to the bigger players and still have some left to give when the third period situations demand he be at his best. If the Hawk centers continue to fail in the circles, he may have to be the remedy if no trades are made.
The group of Mikhail Yakubov, Igor Radulov, Kent Huskins and Steve McCarthy are all players whose NHL days are still ahead of them. Each displays big league abilities, but each also lacks complete game assets. As they improve on their weak areas, all will be knocking at the NHL door soon. They will be given playing time in Norfolk which will aid in working on their game.
There is no doubt that the 2003 Blackhawk training will be the most competitive ever.