Only 26 players remain. The Blackhawks, as expected, made more cuts Friday sending forwards Kyle Beach, Igor Makarov, Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith and defenseman Brian Connelly to the Rockford IceHogs.
Jeremy Morin and Nick Leddy both remain with the team for at least the weekend, earning a longer look from Stan Bowman and Co.
Beach and Makarov are the notable cuts. But neither should come as a surprise. They simply weren't ready. Their performances in Thursday's exhibition loss to the St. Louis Blues -- who fielded a lineup of NHL regulars -- only emboldened the Hawks' decisions to send them to Rockford for more seasoning.
Beach, a 6-3, 200-pound power forward with a mean streak, had only one goal this preseason. Against the Blues on Thursday, the 20-year-old had a team-worst minus-4 rating. Beach, the 11th overall pick in 2008, has to improve on defense.
"I thought he made tremendous progress from a year ago," coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after practice Friday at the United Center. "He had way more pace to his game. He had production to back it up. He can score. Overall ... both sides of the puck he can learn what we're looking for. But at the same time, he's got a lot of ingredients that make him an NHL prospect and an NHL player down the road. The American [Hockey] League is great league, a great place to learn. It will be a good place to start."
Makarov garnered attention for his quick wrist shot and impressive play in the Hawks scrimmages. But once exhibition play began, the 23-year-old Russian wasn't as productive -- although he was very noticeable at times. He was a minus-3 Thursday in St. Louis.
"Last year, he didn't play a lot of hockey [in the Kontinental Hockey League]," Quenneville said. "He was on a team where he didn't get quality ice time or enough ice time to improve his overall understanding of the game. He's got great NHL ability in a lot of ways. I love his quickness. I love his speed. He's a threat offensively.
"But I think understanding how the game needs to be played or system-wise can complement his overall skill level and speed. We think he's a real good prospect for us, and be a nice player hopefully down the road. If he can keep improving, hopefully, we see him."