Hawks trim roster to 26; more cuts to come

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have cut their roster to 26 players after assigning forward Brad Winchester and defenseman Theo Peckham to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL on Wednesday.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville recently said he plans to keep 23 players for the season opener. He said Wednesday he likely will keep eight defensemen on the roster and is unsure when the final cuts will happen.

The final three spots are assumed to be between forwards Jeremy Morin, Joakim Nordstrom and Brandon Pirri and defensemen Michael Kostka and Ryan Stanton. Two roster spots are expected to go to forwards and one to a defenseman.

Forwards Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes appear to have earned spots on the team after productive training camps. Hayes skated with the second line and Smith was with the third line during practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks’ roster now includes 15 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders.

The Blackhawks will have their final preseason game on Saturday and their season opener is Tuesday.