The Chicago Blackhawks Need Improved Defense And Could Turn To Free Agency
Worst-kept secret in hockey: The Chicago Blackhawks’ defense throughout the 2015-16 season was a mess, to say the least. A likely-tired trio of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson was tasked with carrying the entire unit, and sometimes Seabrook needed carrying as well.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, Erik Gustafsson, Michal Rozsival, Christian Ehrhoff, Viktor Svedberg, Trevor Daley, David Rundblad and Rob Scuderi had different roles and tenures with the Blackhawks this season, but an overarching word that can be used to describe them all was “struggled.” And that’s a big reason why the blue line is in such rough shape, as General Manager Stan Bowman had to sacrifice young defensive depth to keep the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup window open.
So, as of now, the defense is in rebuild mode. Ville Pokka could provide a boost next season, but if he couldn’t manage to crack the Blackhawks lineup one time during a season in which even Rundblad was getting some rub, what reason is there to think he’s going to improve the Blackhawks blue line that much?
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There isn’t an instant fix out there for this group, and with salary cap issues again strapping Bowman, dealing in free agency is going to be a difficult proposition. But it’s probably what Bowman is going to need to do for this blue line to be something that can support a Stanley Cup contender in 2016-17.
Let’s take a look, then, at some of the potential options out there this summer for Bowman to ink. I’m only going to be looking at guys who are free agents this offseason. I’m not considering any trades Bowman might make in the offseason for a defenseman. The guys I selected as potential options also have contracts or contract situations that lend well to Bowman potentially being able to strike a deal with them.
Also, no, these are not all guys I’d like to see in a Blackhawks uniform … they’re just possible options to fill an obvious void. Some, I think, would make the team better. Some probably wouldn’t.
We’re going to look solely at unrestricted free agents with this post, and I’ll glance at some restricted free agents later this weekend.
Next: First Four Unrestricted Free Agent Defensemen