Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Free Agent Defensive Options, Part I

By Colin Likas
Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates his goal in front of Boston Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles (26) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) celebrates his goal in front of Boston Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles (26) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
3 of 3
chicago blackhawks
Feb 25, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders defenseman Marek Zidlicky (28) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. New York Islanders won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Marek Zidlicky, New York Islanders

2015-16 stats: 58 games, 4 goals, 13 assists, plus-7 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $1,500,000/$1,500,000

Zidlicky is the oldest resident of this list at 39 years of age. And it appears the age is catching up to him, as he was a healthy scratch at times for the Islanders this season. Zidlicky hit a career low in average ice time as well at 15:35, well below his career average of 20:52.

Zidlicky was also heavily sheltered but still couldn’t post a break-even Corsi-for mark, checking in at 49.30 at evens. He could be a good offensive defenseman in the right situations, but there just isn’t a whole lot Zidlicky offers that offsets his age and relative lack of size (5-11, 190).

chicago blackhawks
Mar 21, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Brian Strait (37) reaches for the puck during the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

Brian Strait, New York Islanders

2015-16 stats: 59 games, 1 goal, 5 assists, minus-2 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $925,000/$775,000

More from Blackhawks News

Strait doesn’t really do anything that well. The 28-year-old doesn’t eat big minutes (his career average TOI is 16:57), he doesn’t score (6 goals and 21 assists in his regular-season career) and he doesn’t turn play the other way (47.14 Corsi-for mark at evens last season).

The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder does like to hit some, having cracked 100 hits in each of the last two campaigns. He’s also a guy who can log some penalty-kill minutes. But he just feels like another third-pairing guy, and the Blackhawks have enough of those.

chicago blackhawks
Mar 29, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis (2) crashes into San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer (34) and forward Micheal Haley (38) during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Sharks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks

2015-16 stats: 58 games, 3 goals, 10 assists, minus-2 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $3,250,000/$4,500,000

This is the guy many fans and analysts thought the Blackhawks were going after at the trade deadline, but Bowman couldn’t make a deal. He probably thought he had to give up too much to get a likely rental of Hamhuis, and he was probably right. Now, the Blackhawks can try to pry him from the Canucks at a much more team-friendly cost.

Hamhuis is 33 and has only played for two teams in his career: Nashville and Vancouver. He has no Stanley Cups in 12 NHL seasons, and Bowman could probably sway him to drop some money for a championship bid. Hamhuis does bring more of a shutdown defensive style to the table, which the Blackhawks could use.

Hamhuis posted a slightly above-water Corsi-for mark (50.18) at evens while seeing slightly more defensive-zone starts. He can play big minutes (averages 22:17 TOI for his career) and is sizeable enough (6-1, 209) not to be easily pushed off the puck. Sure, he got lit up by Dave Bolland in the Blackhawks-Canucks 2011 playoff series, but we could still welcome the guy to Chicago … if the price is right.

chicago blackhawks
Mar 29, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber (6) skates against the San Jose Sharks during the first period at Rogers Arena. The San Jose Sharks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Yannick Weber, Vancouver Canucks

2015-16 stats: 45 games, 0 goals, 7 assists, minus-17 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $1,500,000/$1,500,000

I kind of pulled this one out of left field, but the price makes him an option. Weber is probably one of the worst defensive options on this list, and last season was a struggle for him (not that anyone in Vancouver made out real well). Weber hit 48.31 in even-strength Corsi-for despite getting more offensive-zone starts, and he saw his career-best 11 goals from 2014-15 plummet all the way to zilch this year.

Next: Blackhawks Future Friday Profile: Ville Pokka

Weber is much more of an offensive defenseman, but he’d have to take a smaller deal with the Blackhawks considering his struggles in 2015-16. He’s also somewhat undersized (5-11, 200) and hasn’t proven he can handle big minutes (18:50 average TOI last season, but 15:55 for his career). Kind of a last-hope option here.

facebooktwitterreddit