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Blackhawks Notebook: Savard High On Team's Prospects

09/24/2008 3:31 PM

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On the day that the first training camp cuts were made, Head Coach Denis Savard took time to praise the Blackhawks’ wealth of prospects, even those who didn’t make the cut this time around.
Defenseman Shawn Lalonde, the team’s third-round draft pick from this summer’s draft, was among the cuts made Wednesday, but Savard said that he still sees him as an important player in the team’s future.

“He’s a great prospect – we were impressed. That’s why we played him in game one [against Columbus last night],” explained Savard. “We felt that he had such a great camp and such great ability. He’ll go back to juniors and have a great year. Playing in that one game is going to give him a lot of confidence going back.”

Savard also praised the prospects who are still fighting for a roster spot in camp, such as the hero of last night’s victory, Troy Brouwer. Brouwer made the game-winning goal late in the third period against the Blue Jackets, highlighting his natural scoring ability on the NHL stage.

“Everybody played well and he was a part of it yesterday. It was a big goal. That’s what he does: he scores. The last two seasons down there [in Rockford], he was their best goal scorer. He played with an edge yesterday,” said Savard. “If he’s going to continue playing the way he has, it’ll be tough to return him. His [off-season] conditioning has been remarkable and it shows in his game.”

Another forward still fighting for a spot on the team is Akim Aliu, who Savard said is doing well, but needs more time to acclimate to the NHL.

“He’s just got to learn the pro game,” Savard said. “That’s basically it. It comes with time, just learning how the pro game is played. At this level, the details are important and he’s got to play details.”

Savard said that the lineup for Friday night’s preseason game against Minnesota isn’t set, but free-agent signee Cristobal Huet will be in goal, with Nikolai Khabibulin set to play Sunday against Dallas. Outside of that, Savard said about his lineups, “you guys find out the same time that I do.”

But as for right now, Savard and crew will “focus on Friday [and] take it one game at a time.”