Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Actively Seeking Defenseman

By Colin Likas

The movement of forwards Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp by the Chicago Blackhawks during the recently ended offseason was highly publicized and caused the most hand-wringing among fans. Now, however, it looks like those mantles should have been taken by the loss of defenseman Johnny Oduya to free agency.

With Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson holding down the blue-line fort, Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman has seen enough from the rest of the current cast of Blackhawks defensemen. A report from the Chicago’s Tribune’s Chris Kuc surfaced last night that Bowman is actively looking to trade for a defenseman.

It’s not a secret the Blackhawks are currently pretty weak behind the aforementioned big three defensemen. Offseason acquisition Trevor Daley hasn’t provided a whole lot of defense as he constantly tries to get involved in offensive plays, leaving him susceptible to creating odd-man rushes for the opposition. He has been paired with Trevor van Riemsdyk of late, and van Riemsdyk is still going through growing pains at the NHL level as well. The same could be said for the hulking Viktor Svedberg, and David Rundblad is so deep in Joel Quenneville‘s doghouse thanks to his poor preseason play that Mystery Inc. probably couldn’t track him down. Behind all that is the injured Michal Rozsival, who will likely be of more use to the Blackhawks than they initially figured when he’s back to 100 percent.

Thus the need for a reliable defenseman, and Bowman has apparently turned to player swapping for that. It would indicate that Jan Hejda and Lubomir Visnovsky are not currently being looked at to shore up Chicago’s blue line, as both are free agents and not playing for a team. You’ll recall Hejda, 37, and Visnovsky, 39, were signed to professional tryout deals during training camp but were ultimately cut by the Blackhawks.

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Prior to the season starting, rumors were circulating that Bryan Bickell could be moved to Edmonton for defenseman Nikita Nikitin, but apparently the deal fell through. Nikitin was placed on waivers shortly after Bickell cleared them, but Nikitin, unlike Bickell, made his way to the AHL after clearing. He remains with Edmonton’s AHL affiliate in Bakersfield despite a rumor that he would head to the KHL, and he could still be a target for the Blackhawks despite being in Year 2 of a two-year, $9 million deal at this time.

Who else the Blackhawks might be after is anyone’s guess. There are no other viable rumors swirling about, and Kuc didn’t suggest any names when he released the rumor he had heard about Bowman shopping for a defenseman. This could be something that plays out over the course of a week or several weeks, though, so don’t expect the Blackhawks to make a deal this afternoon. Of course, it is Stan Bowman, so maybe that does happen. But the main takeaway is this: The Blackhawks aren’t satisfied with their blue line three games into this season, and they’re heading outside the organization to make it better.

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