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Chicago Blackhawks: Svedberg Deserves Third Pairing Shot

By Sean Fitzgerald

With the Chicago Blackhawks’ training camp rapidly approaching, the coaching staff must be reviewing its current information on various players, including those who were with minor league affiliates last season. The Blackhawks defense will be younger next season than it has been recently.

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The top two pairings figure to be Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Trevor Daley. The bottom two defensemen figure to be younger, inexperienced players like Trevor van Riemsdyk, David Rundblad and Ville Pokka. An additional player who has not seen a lot of ice time with the Blackhawks and should get a look for a third-pairing slot is Viktor Svedberg.

Svedberg was a free agent signing of the Blackhawks in 2013. He was a productive two-way player in Sweden and used his 6-foot-8, 234-pound frame to his advantage. In the Swedish Super Elite League, Svedberg racked up 55 points in 126 games (15 goals and 40 assists). Svedberg also has great mobility for someone of his size and a real active stick on defense.

In the AHL, Svedberg has become more of a stay-at-home defensemen although his numbers are comparable to his time in the Swedish Super Elite League. In 84 games at Rockford last season, Svedberg tallied five goals and 18 assists. Although he was recalled to the Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Svedberg has yet to see any action at the NHL level.

If Svedberg did make the Blackhawks roster for the 2015-16 season, he would bring several elements to the blue line. Svdeberg would bring size to a small group. He can hit which, aside from Seabrook, nobody on the blue line does frequently. He knows how to play a two-way game and has shown in other professional leagues that he can play a two-way game. The Blackhawks also have some level of confidence in him because of his recall last season during the playoffs. So in my mind, he should get a chance to make the bottom pairing.

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I’m not saying he is flawless. He commits a lot of penalties by playing the body. He has good hockey sense but not great hockey sense, and his mobility can be an issue even though it’s good considering his size.

Now Svedberg seeing some time at the NHL level this season also could be a look toward the future. With the Blackhawks currently not under this year’s salary cap and Seabrook due for a contract extension next year, the team could have to find a defenseman to replace Seabrook. I’m not saying that Svedberg would perfectly replace Seabrook; I’m saying that the Blackhawks could be another defensemen short after next season, and Svedberg is a young defenseman in the minor leagues. The rumor is Seabrook wants in the neighborhood of P.K. Subban money, which is $9 million per year.

That might be thinking to0 far into the future. For the immediate future, Svedberg should get a shot at the bottom pairing.

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