The Chicago Blackhawks signed Tanner Kero to a two-year contract extension that will run through the 2018-19 season. Kero’s solid defensive play has earned Quenneville’s trust, and a new deal from the front office.
When a player does their job well The Chicago Blackhawks reward them, and that’s exactly what happened Thursday afternoon with forward Tanner Kero. Kero has 5 goals and 7 assists on the season, but his value comes from his work in the defensive zone.
Kero, 24, has been a quality offensive talent at nearly ever level he’s played at. Often times when players who are used to scoring break into the NHL they find it difficult to find the back of the net and do too much, and it hurts their overall game. Kero has done a nice job of simplifying his game and filling a defensive role. For a player taking over half of his faceoffs in the defensive zone Kero’s Corsi-For rating of 47.5 is exactly the type of play you want from a checking line forward.
Kero began the season with the Rockford IceHogs and was called up in December due to injuries. Since then Kero has been a mainstay in the ‘Hawks roster playing in the past 38 games.
Kero’s ability to quickly gain the favor of Joel Quenneville is an anomaly as Q is known for quickly putting young players in his infamous doghouse. Often times a stay in the doghouse equates to a trip back to Rockford. Something has to be said about Kero’s willingness to change his game for the good of the team.
Kero has been a key part of the Blackhawks youth movement this year. Many national analysts expected this to be a rebuilding year for the ‘Hawks. Kero’s play while less gaudy as some of the other new guys has been a key reason why the Hawks have been able to maintain their spot at the top of the league.
As a quality regular season wraps up for Kero we can expect to see him play an important role in this years playoffs. The ice gets a lot smaller in the playoffs and the checking tighter Kero will need to continue his stalwart defensive play, and really earn his new contract. Because the only thing better than a new contract is a championship ring to boot.