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How well is Adrian Aucoin doing and does he expect to be ready by training camp? What backups do the Hawks have if Aucoin is hampered by his shoulder? Thanks. --Fernando in Chicago
What is the status on Habbi? Is he healthy enough to be the star goalie he was a couple of years ago? --Jason Duncan, BC
Fernando and Jason, both Adrian Aucoin and Nikolai Khabibulin are 100% healthy (have been for some time) and are ready for training camp. The Blackhawks have promising young defensemen such as Cam Barker and Dustin Byfuglien, plus Lasse Kukkonen -- one of the top d-men in Finland the past three seasons -- who could step in if Aucoin were to have any further problems. Khabibulin is far too proud and fierce a competitor not to bounce back, especially considering his amazing work ethic.
Do you see the Hawks signing Jack Skille and Jonathan Toews after their respective sophomore seasons are over? --Dave Keith, Toronto, ON
That's an easy one, Dave! Yes. (Both were almost ready this year.)
What are the chances that some of the European players signed by the Blackhawks will be in training camp and make the team? --Jack Kinvarra, Auburn, CA
Jack, I assume you are referring to Finnish players Tony Salmelainen and Kukkonen, plus Swedish center Jonas Nordqvist. All three will be at training camp and Nordqvist is the only one on a two-way contract. So it's possible Nordqvist could play in Norfolk, but I personally expect all three to make the opening night roster. Speaking of Nordqvist...
I'm very intrigued with Jonas Nordqvist but don't know much about him. What are his strong/weak points, and how are his faceoff skills? Does he look good to make the roster this year? Thanks! Dave Anton, Minneapolis, MN
Dave, Nordqvist has a reputation as a centerman with great vision and hockey sense -- someone who makes his linemates better, which is key at that position. His only obvious weakness is that he's not especially quick; he's not known as a blazer like Salmelainen, for example. But both his skating and faceoff skills are adequate.