Mar 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy (8) is pursued by Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
When Stan Bowman sat on his hands during the draft this year, you had to see a move like this coming. Nick Leddy, a promising young defenseman who couldn’t seem to get out of Quenneville’s doghouse was traded yesterday for a decent prospect and two mediocre players. Fans had to see this move coming since the other twenty-nine teams knew the Hawks needed to shed salary and had all of the leverage in any trade presented to them. Bowman had to know all along that the team would pursue free agent Brad Richards and his signing would put the Blackhawks over the allotted cap. Instead of moving a player at the draft for a more significant return he waited until the last-minute to trade a player who should’ve, no would’ve, fetched a far greater return at the draft. Now the void must be filled, but who will fill it?
Defense is a position in which the Blackhawks have great depth. A few defensemen who are vying for Leddy’s open position include: Kyle Cumiskey, David Rundblad, and Trevor van Riemsdyk. With Klas Dahlbeck being sent back to Rockford today it looks as if those three will be the finalists for that third pairing. Let’s take a look at who would be the best fit to fill Nick Leddy’s role as an offensive defenseman, but hopefully with a little more emphasis on the defenseman part.
Kyle Cumiskey: A former draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, Cumiskey spent the last two seasons in Sweden where he amassed 11 goals and 49 assists. He is strong offensively, but is not a defensive liability like Leddy was at various times last season. Cumiskey has some NHL experience and had a pretty decent preseason. He definitely has a shot at that third pairing.
David Rundblad: Rundblad was traded to the Hawks for a second round pick at last year’s trade deadline. He’s a former first round pick who has been traded multiple times. He hasn’t had a chance to showcase his full ability, but has a tremendous upside. Rundblad is still young, so it’s not like he has hit his ceiling just yet. I’m not sure if Rundblad has done enough in the preseason to secure that third pairing spot, but he will be in the rotation as the seventh defensemen.
Trevor van Riemsdyk: I mentioned him as a possible defenseman to watch out for in the future in one of my previous articles. I didn’t think the future would be now. Van Riemsdyk has heard nothing but praise from coach Quenneville and has a realistic shot at cracking the opening night roster. TSN’s Bob McKenzie said on twitter that “If I were a betting man, I’d wager on…rookie D Trevor van Riemsdyk being in CHI opening night lineup.” Van Riemsdyk is quite the steal as I’ve said, but could he really crack this Hawks roster and will he stick around if he does?
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Your guess is as good as mine for who will be in Leddy’s spot when the Hawks open up the season in less than a week! However, if I had to pick someone I would go with Cumiskey. I could be wrong, but he has the most NHL experience and like van Riemsdyk he is a Quenneville favorite.
That’s all I’ve got this week, but be sure to follow BlackhawkUp on twitter and on Facebook. Thanks for reading.