Updated: December 21, 2011 8:17AM
EDMONTON, Alberta — Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman doesn’t exactly want his players looking over their shoulders, but he does want them fighting for spots.
Bowman made it clear he plans to stick with a 23-man roster after he said the salary cap prevented him from doing so in the past.
“Ideally, I think you’d like to have an extra guy or two around,” Bowman said. “Coaches have agreed with me. I’ve always had the philosophy that keeping guys hungry to stay in the lineup isn’t a bad thing.”
Up front, that competition figures to get tougher once Michael Frolik recovers from his left shoulder injury and with Ben Smith back in the mix.
John Scott, Sami Lepisto and Sean O’Donnell have been competing for ice time on the blue line. Scott has been given more opportunities recently as either Lepisto or O’Donnell sits.
With blue-line stalwart Brent Seabrook still recovering from a leg injury, O’Donnell replaced Lepisto in the lineup Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, a day after Lepisto was minus-2 in 13:08 in a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames.
“If you’ve got no extra players, most guys know that they’re going to play the next game,” Bowman said. “We’ve got a lot of competition. The theory is you’re going to get more out of your guys knowing that if you don’t perform, you’re going to be in the press box. We’re able to do that.”
Patrick Kane celebrated his 23rd birthday Saturday, with Daniel Carcillo surprising him with a cake in the locker room.
“Time is flying by,” Kane said. “It feels like yesterday I was 18 years old and turning 19 in the month of November and now I’m turning 23. But a lot of good things have happened in my career so far. I’m excited where the rest will lead.”
There was a misleading rumor recently that the Buffalo Sabres made a strong push to acquire Kane over the summer.
“I don’t know where those things come from,” Bowman said. “No, they didn’t.”