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Chicago Blackhawks: Training Camp Defensemen Breakdown

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Well, it’s over (sort of). The Chicago Blackhawks offseason is technically over, with the training camp roster being released Wednesday. In this post, we’ll be analyzing the unsung heroes, the guys who literally lay it all on the line, the heavy-hitters and the hard-shooters. I’m talking about the defensemen. We’ll look at the percent chance of each defenseman on the training camp roster of making the Blackhawks for Opening Night. Earlier today, we did the same thing for the forwards.

First, we’ll start with the locks for the roster:

  • Duncan Keith, 100 percent: The 2015 Conn Smythe is Chicago’s No. 1 defenseman and one of the best in the entire league. He’ll be on the United Center ice next month for the banner raising.
  • Brent Seabrook, 100 percent: This guy will certainly be on the roster, even if he is involved in talks for a big new contract.
  • Niklas Hjalmarsson, 100 percent: The defensive defensemen to end all defensive defensemen will probably block a shot with his face in camp and be ready for Opening Night anyway.
  • Trevor Daley, 100 percent: Stan Bowman didn’t acquire Daley in a trade involving Patrick Sharp just to see Daley be used in the AHL.
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk, 92 percent: The Blackhawks could decide they want van Riemsdyk to start the season in Rockford for conditioning purposes, but considering he went from multiple injuries straight to Stanley Cup Final action, he’ll very likely be on the Opening Night roster.
  • David Rundblad, 92 percent: He appears to have the inside track at the sixth D spot, even if it makes most fans queasy.

Next up are the most likely to probable defensemen, those who you wouldn’t be totally surprised to see on the Opening Night roster:

  • Kyle Cumiskey, 80 percent: Good luck guessing who might fill the seventh D spot for the Blackhawks come opening night. Cumiskey might be the cheapest option, or at least tied for cheapest, and he’s certainly a known commodity.
  • Michal Rozsival, 80 percent: Pretty much the same thing for Rozi, except he’s slower than Cumiskey and coming off a nasty broken ankle. But Joel Quenneville seems to have a soft spot for the guy. Where have we heard that before?
  • Jan Hejda, 72 percent: One of two defensemen with the team on a professional tryout contract, my best guess is that Hejda and the next player on this list were brought on as potential mentors to the younger guys. Hejda would provide a capable presence on the blue line for 12 minutes a night. Of course, squeezing him under the cap is an issue.
  • Lubomir Visnovsky, 72 percent: Same thing here, just a little bit older. Visnovsky is a better possession defenseman than any of the three immediately above him, though.
  • Ville Pokka, 60 percent: With so many guys coming in who could easily be sixth or seventh defensemen, it seems like the Blackhawks would like to keep the young Pokka in Rockford for another year of experience. He did make waves last year as an offensive defenseman.
  • Viktor Svedberg, 60 percent: A mountain of a defenseman who is said to play a similar style to Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, he’s pretty much in the same boat as Pokka.
  • Cameron Schilling, 50 percent: Schilling spent part of the previous three seasons with the Washington Capitals. Seems more likely he’ll be an AHL guy moving forward, but anything is possible on the Blackhawks’ third pairing.

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Lastly, we’ll look at the guys who have less than a 50-50 shot of making the Opening Night roster on the blueline:

  • Dillon Fournier, 5 percent: Spent time between the ECHL and AHL last season, and he’ll likely be in one or the other this season.
  • Mathieu Brisebois, 5 percent: Another ECHL/AHL guy, he’s in the same boat as Fournier, if two years older (23 versus 21).
  • Kirill Gotovets, 0 percent: Gotovets snuck in for Rockford’s playoff run last season, and he’ll probably see some regular-season time there this season.
  • Erik Gustafson, 0 percent: Out of the Swedish Elite League, he’s getting a taste of the North American game in camp.
  • Sam Jardine, 0 percent: A player many are saying has potential, Jardine just finished up his third season at Ohio State.
  • Nick Mattson, 0 percent: Just finished his fourth season at North Dakota, it may be his time to get acquainted to a higher level of play.
  • Nolan Valleau, 0 percent: Just finished up his first season at Bowling Green, so he likely isn’t thinking NHL at this point anyway.
  • Dennis Robertson, 0 percent: Last season was his first of legitimate length in the AHL, but he’s not ready for the big show at this time.

I would expect going forward that the pairs would look something like this for the home opener:

Seabrook-Keith

Hjalmarsson-Daley

Van Riemsdyk-Rundblad

That third pairing is very interesting, as you could feasibly put any combo of guys there. You could have 10 different combos, and one things for certain: It would be hard for the third pair to be more maligned than it was last year in the playoffs.

We’re almost there, Blackhawks fans. Just one more month … one more drama-filled month. Then the blades hit the ice for real.

Have a thought on who does or doesn’t make the Blackhawks roster out of camp? Let us know in the comments section.

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