3. Defensive Depth Now A Strength
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, weaknesses of the 2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks was the defensive depth of the organization. While the top-three defensemen for the Blackhawks are international elite players like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, the next three in the rotation at the beginning of 2015-16 left something to be desired. Trevor Daley, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Michal Rozsival are not exactly a murder’s row of top-six-quality defensemen.
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Yes, Daley did just win the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but his fit with the Blackhawks was never fully realized and he was dealt for Rob Scuderi. Good lord.
Other names like Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg, Christian Ehrhoff and David Rundblad made their way into Chicago’s blue-line rotation in 2015-16. That can’t happen again if the Blackhawks want to compete for the Stanley Cup in the future, so the organization made a few additions by signing Michal Kempny from the Czech Republic and getting a large discount on former Cup winner Brian Campbell in his return to Chicago.
Campbell, 37, is still a legitimate top-four defenseman in the NHL, having put together a 31-point (6 goals, 25 assists), plus-31 season with the Florida Panthers in 2015-16, helping them back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011-12. Campbell played three seasons with Chicago from 2008-2011 and helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, getting the primary assist on Kane’s Cup-winning goal.
More than likely, Campbell will be paired with Seabrook in the second pairing behind Keith and Hjalmarsson.
For Kempny, the Czech defenseman was a big question mark heading into the Blackhawks’ Prospect Camp. Many had high hopes for him to be a top-six-type of defender for the Blackhawks, to give them an added boost in the third pairing on the blue line, or at least be a player who could be the seventh defender on the NHL roster.
It’s likely after his showing at Prospect Camp, Kempny will get that opportunity to be the regular fifth or sixth defenseman in the rotation along with van Riemsdyk.
A skillful skating, puck-moving defender is just what the Blackhawks need after having the likes of Scuderi, Ehrhoff and Svedberg in the rotation last season. *shudder*
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