If the Hawks hadn’t dealt away Adam Clendening to the Vancouver Canucks, I’d probably put him into this conversation – but even still, he wouldn’t be my initial choice. There are really only four members of the Blackhawks organization that could potentially fill the need – Stephen Johns, Kyle Cumiskey, Klas Dahlbeck and T.J. Brennan.
Let’s start with Kyle Cumiskey. Cumiskey has played many a professional season throughout his career including three years in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche. Though his numbers and points weren’t through the roof, his experience might be what pushes Bowman and Quenneville over the edge to give him the next nod.
Basis… as said before, the Hawks have yet to keep anyone without much, if any NHL experience for any extended period of time – aside from Trevor VanRiemsdyk of course.
Next, and maybe a further stretch for the front office but a promising idea for the Blackhawks fan base, is young Notre Dame star Stephen Johns. Johns is in only his 2nd year as a professional, but certainly has the raw talent to eventually excel in the NHL. Fun fact, in 2013 he won the William Donald Nytrop Award, denoting him Notre Dame’s most valuable defensemen.
Johns’ greatest attributes are his youth and size (6’4 215lbs). His youth might provide an opportunity to bond with VanRiemsdyk, but I’d be tentative to support a pairing of Rundblad and Johns at this point. Unfortunately, Johns might not be capable of filling the specific needs for the Hawks just yet – but still an option.
The last two, are probably the ideal candidates should the Hawks go the Rockford route…
Dec 11, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) is congratulated by defenseman Klas Dahlbeck (44) after scoring a goal during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
1. KLAS DAHLBECK
Klas Dahlbeck had an exciting 1st career NHL game against the Boston Bruins, as his first career shot on goal in the NHL, amounted to his first goal in the NHL. Dahlbeck has a lot of intangibles the third pairing could really benefit from – whether his partner is Michael Rosival or TVR.
He stands at 6’2” and weighs 206 lbs. Though he hasn’t shocked the world with his numbers, he’s consistent and makes an impact in his own zone. Which with the offensive prowess of Keith, Seabrook, Oduya and TVR, helps make a serious case for a guy that can hold down the fort when his partner moves ahead with the rush.
In his brief time with the big club this year, it was incredibly noticeable why he was the IceHogs “Co-best Defenseman” last season (w/ Adam Clendening) after posting 35 pts. Maybe Q hasn’t given him his fair shake yet – it wouldn’t be the first time.
2. T.J. BRENNAN
My last idea would be the two time consecutive AHL all-star (2014,2015) T.J. Brennan. Brennan is in his sixth year as a professional, stands at 6’1” and weighs 213 lbs. This season with the IceHogs Brennan has played in 47 games, tallied 8 goals, 24 assists and is a +11 in Corsi. Though there hasn’t been much said about Brennan and him coming up to the big club, he could provide Q and the Hawks an opportunity to shuffle in another D-man that can really generate offense from the blue line, and provide a little bit of professional hockey experience to a pairing with TVR.
Only time will tell, only the recovery of TVR will tell, but the good news is the Hawks are deep enough at the defensive position to have dealt away a talent like Adam Clendening. The Hawks continue to have problems, if you can even call them such – but they continue to be good problems to have. Especially in the first week of February!!
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