The Chicago Blackhawks addressed one of their major holes from last season by adding a defenseman when the Blackhawks added Michal Kempny, a Czech defenseman. Kempny played in the KHL last season with Omsk Avangard. He appeared in 59 games with five goals and 16 goals. Kempny also appeared for the Czech in the IHHF World Championship, and he was viewed as the best defenseman in the tournament. This signing was followed by a string of European signings that have helped the Blackhawks right off the bat. Previous signing were Erik Gustafsson, Artemi Panarin, and Dennis Rasmussen. The Blackhawks are hoping their European success continues and that Kempny that he is a plug and play defenseman.
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Despite the savvy signing, the Blackhawks issues have not been completely solved. Kempny could fill a hole but there are still multiples holes, especially on defense. The Blackhawks still have a question mark after Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Kempny has proven that he can play in the KHL and during the World Championships but can he play in the NHL? Time will answer that question. If Kempny cannot be the fourth defenseman, does the Blackhawks coaching staff return Trevor van Riemsdyk to the fourth spot? For the team’s sake, I hope they do not need TVR to be the fourth defenseman again this season.
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Let’s assume Kempny fills the fourth spot. That question is now filled for the time being, but now who is the Blackhawks final pairing? The logical choices are Gustafsson or TVR but they are both inexperienced and seemed to be turnover prone. Viktor Svedberg could also be an option for final pairing because of his size. The Blackhawks also have two young drafts picks that were signed this offseason. Where do Robin Norell and Gustav Forsling fit in this season or are they simply just Rockford bound? Lastly does Kempny mean that Ville Pokka finally gets a shot at the Blackhawks or does he spent another season at Rockford. Those are just some the questions that still need to be answered after the Kempny signing.
While everyone was lauding General Stan Bowman for signing Kempny, they only got him to sign for one season. It is between $575,000 to $925,000. One season is only a stop gap deal. If Kempny plays well and gets a new contract can the Blackhawks afford him going forward? The Kempny signing was a step in the right direction but there are still many holes to fixed and very little cap space to do it.