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Chicago Blackhawks: Daley Should Be Paired With Keith

By Sean Fitzgerald
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When the Chicago Blackhawks traded Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars in the offseason, the Blackhawks got Trevor Daley in return. Daley was supposed to be their fourth defenseman and the replacement for Johnny Oduya. Daley was impressive last season with 16 goals and 22 assists, though his Corsi-for percentage was 46.6, far below Oduya’s 51.1 mark. The only current or former Blackhawks defenseman in the year 2015 whose Corsi-for percentage was worse than Daley’s was Kimmo Timonen — and he was 39-years-old, coming off dealing with blood clots in his legs and played far fewer games than Daley.

Despite the possession struggles, the Blackhawks were high on Daley for this season, thinking he could provide some offense from the blue line.

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Thus far, Daley’s scoring number are down, as he has zero goals and three assists. However, his Corsi-for percentage is 56.9, which is a vast improvement from his days in Dallas. Now Daley was anywhere from the second to fourth defenseman in Dallas. In Chicago, it is a different story. Daley has been relegated to the bottom pairing, and in Sunday’s game with the Calgary Flames, Daley’s new defensive partner was Michal Rozsival. This paring should scare Blackhawks fans.

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On paper, the pairing makes some sense. Rozsvial is a slower player on the back end, but more experienced. Daley is younger (than Rozsival, anyway) but faster. Daley is more inclined to participate on offense while Rozsival is more of a stay-at-home defenseman. However, when the pairing hits the ice, we can see it is very flawed.

Both defensemen make way too many mistakes to be paired with on another. While Rozsival was a valuable player for the Blackhawks last season, he is now a year older and coming off a major ankle injury. He looks like he is skating in mud on the ice. Now the plan would be for Daley to make up for Rozsival’s lack of quickness with his speed. However, Daley’s positioning has generally been poor in his time with the Blackhawks. I am not a hockey expert, but it is troubling to see a defenseman like Daley in the opposing goalie’s blue paint. It appears that Daley spends a considerable amount of time in the opposing goalie’s blue paint. Daley also appears to be lost at times in his own zone.

In order to minimize Daley’s issues, he needs a new defensive partner. Daley needs to be paired with the best Blackhawks defenseman. He needs to be paired with Duncan Keith. Keith’s impact on the Blackhawks has been felt instantly since his return from a knee injury. Keith’s speed and active stick would compensate for Daley’s lack of defensive awareness. Keith also gives the pairing with Daley a more offensive threat. Despite the fact that Daley thinks he is a forward, he does not actually produce offense results. I don’t believe I have seen a shot of his from the point go on net this season. Keith, meanwhile, seems to generate assists at a high rate.

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Hopefully, the defensive pairings will sort themselves out over time, and hopefully Joel Quenneville will minimize Daley’s mistakes by paring him with Keith.

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