Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Defensive Free Agents, Part II

By Colin Likas
Feb 20, 2016; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) skates on the ice in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) skates on the ice in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 7, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Curtis McKenzie (11) checks Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche

2015-16 stats: 78 games, 13 goals, 36 assists, minus-16 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $3,200,000/$2,600,000

Like Krug, I would be surprised to see Barrie being in consideration for the Blackhawks. But also like Krug, Barrie is on a team that seems confused as to what it needs to do to be successful (acquiring Mikkel Boedker at the deadline was not the answer to anything). So … crazier things have happened.

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Unlike Krug, however, Barrie is not exactly an all-around solid defenseman. His offensive game is good enough, as he provided a fair balance of even-strength (26) and man-advantage (21) points this season. He can move the puck and skate out of trouble while also logging good minutes (23:12 ATOI).

But while Barrie can move the puck, that doesn’t mean he’s great at possessing it. His decision making at the NHL level has been sketchy, and while there’s some time to improve that (he’s 24 years old), there’s not a lot on the table to suggest he can or will improve it. When your Corsi-for mark is below 45 percent at evens, something has gone horribly wrong. Ultimately, that and the price tag probably keeps the Blackhawks away from Barrie.

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Apr 15, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) during the first period of the game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings

2015-16 stats: 83 games, 8 goals, 13 assists, minus-1 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $2,250,000/$2,187,500

Up to this point in our RFA discussions, we’ve looked almost entirely at defensemen who have some level of offensive prowess. DeKeyser could fall into that category, but he certainly wasn’t used that way in Jeff Blashill’s first year with the Wings.

DeKeyser saw his offensive-zone starts tilt from 52.2 percent last season to 44.7 percent this season. He honestly didn’t fare that poorly with the change, either, recording all of his points at even-strength, along with a positive plus/minus rating in the regular season. He added 107 blocked shots and a reasonable 48.73 Corsi-for mark at evens (reasonable considering his zone starts).

DeKeyser should probably be used more in an offensive role, however, as he posted 31 points last season despite a 2.2 (!) shooting percentage. That figure leaped to 11.1 percent this season, and that was with DeKeyser being used as more of a defensive defenseman.

Ultimately, that could keep his contract from getting much bigger next season, so the Blackhawks could be game. Of course, the Wings are kind of in a state of flux at this point, what with players leaving or thinking of leaving or saying they were making lineup decisions over the head coach. So familiarity would probably play well moving forward, and DeKeyser offers that in Detroit.

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Apr 20, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Mathew Dumba (55) protects the puck from St. Louis Blues forward Marcel Goc (57) during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Mathew Dumba, Minnesota Wild

2015-16 stats: 87 games, 10 goals, 18 assists, minus-1 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $832,500/$894,167

Dumba is probably going to be among the Wild’s offseason priorities despite his first full NHL season being “meh,” at best. Dumba is just 21 years of age, so he has time to improve. Most of that improvement is needed in his defensive game, as the offensive side of things looks solid.

Dumba split his production pretty well between even-strength (14 points) and man-advantage (12) play this season while getting primarily offensive-zone starts. He has no problem shooting the puck (152 times in the regular season), and he uses his 6-foot frame to his team’s benefit (83 hits, 56 blocked shots).

But the defense just isn’t there yet for the youngster, and neither is the possession ability. No one who is receiving almost 58 percent of his starts in the offensive zone should post a Corsi-for mark below 48 percent. Dumba also gives away the puck a decent amount, too. But the kid has a lot of promise, and that’ll probably make it hard for the Blackhawks to pry him away, if they really wanted him (they probably don’t).

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Mar 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9) celebrates with left wing Andre Burakovsky (65) after scoring a goal in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings during an NHL game at Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Capitals 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals

2015-16 stats: 93 games, 8 goals, 22 assists, plus-8 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $2,250,000/$2,000,000

Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov have worked out well enough in Chicago. Why not continue the foray into Mother Russia? Well, Orlov will probably wind up outside the Blackhawks’ price range, but I don’t necessarily think he’d be a bad guy to have around.

Orlov is sizable (6-foot, 212) and uses said size well enough (121 hits, 61 blocks). He also collects a lot of takeaways using that size along the boards, something the Blackhawks could benefit from. He played in all but one of the Capitals’ games this season (a healthy scratch in a playoff outing) and doesn’t skate poorly for a bigger guy. He also posted a 53.43 Corsi-for mark at evens, though he received heavily-offensive zone starts.

The knock on Orlov has been his injury history, as a broken wrist cost him all of the 2014-15 season. He also has to develop some of his defensive skills away from the boards a little more. Caps coach Barry Trotz told the media he benched Orlov this postseason because he “didn’t like some of his 1-on-1 play.” Not the most-promising sentiment for the 24-year-old.

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Apr 7, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) looks to pass against the San Jose Sharks in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Winnipeg won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets

2015-16 stats: 81 games, 6 goals, 15 assists, plus-10 rating

2015-16 salary/cap hit: $832,500/$894,167

Like Dumba in Minnesota, I can’t imagine the Jets letting Trouba walk, especially not to a divisional opponent. Trouba had a better season than Dumba as well, showing more of a solid all-around game.

The 22-year-old playing for a lost Winnipeg team actually got a pretty good push, seeing some shorthanded time (tallying two points) and averaging just more than 22 minutes overall per game. His zone starts were slightly tilted to the defensive side, but he still came away with a 51.77 Corsi-for mark at evens.

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Trouba is a big guy at 6-3, 202, but like many players currently in Winnipeg, he struggles with putting himself out of position on big hits. That’s something Coach Q wouldn’t tolerate in Chicago. Still, Trouba would be a great piece to acquire; it’s just tough to see it happening at this time.

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