The Blackhawks did their second round of cuts on Friday as seven players were sent back to Norfolk. Defensemen Michal Barinka and Vladimir Gusev and forwards Mikhail Yakubov, Rob Millar, Yorick Treille, Matt Keith, and Matt Ellison. Defenseman Alexander Barkunov is heading back to play over in Russia.
It's really tough to say at this point. We have a lot of crap on defense taking up roster spots so that makes it hard. If we had a solid top four I'd say take them both. Babchuk is definitely showing a higher potential than Kukkonen. It wouldn't surprise me if Smith chose Kukkonen though just because he's older and could probably adapt easier. Whichever rookie plays with our defense is going to have it rough. If Babchuk built his confidence in Norfolk while Smith could improve our D a little bit and was then brought up later in the year I'd be fine with that.
That being said I think Babchuk makes it. He's shown too much. Everyone felt he may have consistency issues but knew he had the higher potential. Well, he's been playing well for a while and I think the temptation is too high to see how he does in the NHL.