Brandon Manning's role on the 2018-19 Chicago Blackhawks is still coming into focus. Playing alongside young defensemen like Henri Jokiharju and Adam Boqvist, Manning has been a veteran leader on the blueline throughout training camp. But with Connor Murphy expected to miss time with a back injury, Manning will also need to provide a spark this season to help Chicago avoid a slow start.
"In practice, it's tough because I like to play a competitive game and a physical game. It's kind of hard to do in practice," he said. "You just lead by example, try and go out there and help with the young guys. Learn from the guys who have been here and done so many good things for themselves and their careers."
Manning entered NHL free agency for the first time this offseason, joining the Blackhawks after six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. With the preseason getting underway, he said he's looking forward to learning a new system in Chicago.
"It's one thing to play in some short games and have some good practices, but games are another level," Manning said. "It'll be nice get down there and just compete on a regular basis against other teams."
Playing on a blueline with a mix of veteran players and prospects, Manning said he sees a lot of potential in a group highlighted by Jokiharju and Boqvist.
"Obviously the two young kids there, they're both right-hand shots, they're both skilled players," he said. "You can see that they're going to be really good players. There are kind of a few holes right now with guys in and out of practice. In my experience, it's good for the young guys to see that opportunity and maybe have a few extra games."