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Nordstrom has made ‘big jump,’ improving odds of making Hawks

Updated: September 26, 2013 9:51PM

Unheralded Joakim Nordstrom could be on the verge of making the Blackhawks’ opening-night roster.

“He’s had a good camp,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I like his speed. For a young guy, he’s got good instincts on both sides of the puck. He’s really progressed from where he was about a year ago. He looks like he’s made a big jump.”

The Hawks are looking for someone to replace Michael Frolik as Marcus Kruger’s penalty-killing partner. Nordstrom, a third-round pick in the 2010 draft, killed penalties in the Swedish Elite League for two years before joining Rockford late last season. Nordstrom has played seven short-handed minutes in four preseason games and was on the ice for two power-play goals. But Nordstrom and Kruger, both Swedes, have an easy rapport, which Quenneville has noticed.

“I hang out a lot with [Kruger], and he helps me a lot, so he’s easy to play with,” Nordstrom said.

At Wednesday’s practice, Nordstrom found himself on the fourth line with Brandon Bollig and Kruger. With Marian Hossa (upper body) still out (Quenneville now hopes he’ll return Thursday), Jimmy Hayes was on the second line and Ben Smith the third line. Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin were on the extra fifth line.

Quenneville reiterated that he likely will keep eight defensemen, so Ryan Stanton or Mike Kostka will make the team. With Hayes and Smith seeming like locks, that leaves one roster spot for Morin, Pirri and Nordstrom to fight over.

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