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Chicago Blackhawks: Defenseman Jan Rutta A Target In Free Agency

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Apr 17, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) against the Nashville Predators in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won in overtime 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 17, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) against the Nashville Predators in game three of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won in overtime 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks will be looking for ways to boost their blue line for the 2017-18 season, and they’re currently in the overseas market for a possible candidate

The Chicago Blackhawks are in the running for Czech free agent defenseman Jan Rutta. The report comes courtesy of Scott Powers at the Athletic, who states that the ’Hawks and several other teams are pursing the free agent. Other teams rumored to be interested are the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, per Second City Hockey, although no formal offers have been made.

Scouts state that Rutta is an offensive defenseman with size. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, and has a right-handed shot. Many believe he could help teams starving for offensive production from the blue line. If he signed with the ’Hawks, he would give them another right-handed shot from the blue line, which they are sorely lacking.

Rutta recently had a strong showing at the World Championships with the Czech Republic. He has spent his entire pro career in the Czech Extraliga.

Rutta should not viewed as a long-term solution on the blue line. He is already 26 years old and has never played North American hockey.

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If the Blackhawks do win Rutta’s services, they can sign him to a one-year deal worth below a million dollars. This gives them depth on defense and does not cost a lot of money against  the salary cap.

International free agent signings and misses in 2016-17

This offseason has been longer than Blackhawks would have liked, and it has given us more time to evaluate free agents “targeted” by the organization.

While Stan Bowman was able to bring in David Kampf on a two-year deal, he missed out on signing Calle Rosen. Rosen is a Swedish defensemen who chose to sign with the up-and-coming Toronto Maple Leafs over the Hawks.

I fully expect the Blackhawks to be active in the international free agent market as the offseason continues, especially if the team decides to move a defenseman or loses one in the NHL expansion draft.

The one position the Blackhawks have not addressed with a European free agent  is backup goalie. This strikes me as odd, as Jeff Glass is penciled in as the current backup to Corey Crawford.

The team is usually very active in pursing European goal tenders to fill out the backup role. They have signed Antti Raanta and Lars Johansson in recent years to contracts in hoping for grooming them to be a backup goalie.

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