How will Connor Murphy mesh with his fellow defensemen?
Trading Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes this summer for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin was a move to try and make the Blackhawks a bit more youthful. It also gave the ‘Hawks a little extra contract control, with Murphy having three more years left on his contract than Hjalmarsson.
But there is no denying the Blackhawks will miss the services of Hammer with his strong defensive game, shot blocks and great positioning.
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What remains to be seen is what the ‘Hawks will be getting in Murphy, who has shown some potential in his few years in the league, albeit on a pretty bad team in Arizona. While his stats will not win over any skeptical fan, watching Murphy play shows he could develop into a reliable top-four defenseman.
How Murphy is able to mesh with his new teammates and on his new team is something every fan should be interested in. The state of the Blackhawks defense is possibly the worst it has been in 10 years, and Murphy coming in and being able to succeed will help to mend that hole and have fans breathing a sigh of relief.
Can Murphy succeed on a better team in Chicago and with his new teammates? We can only hope, because if he struggles, that blue line looks absolutely atrocious.
What will the defensive pairings look like after camp?
Speaking of that possibly atrocious blue line, NHL Network recently tried to predict the Blackhawks’ defensive pairings for the 2017-18 season and the image set Blackhawks Twitter on fire.
Seeing Michal Rozsival listed in a starting slot for the 2017-18 Blackhawks is sure to cause all sorts of reactions usually associated with having a seizure, but the fact is it is not very clear what the Blackhawks’ defensive pairings are going to look like in 2017-18.
We know Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Murphy are already slotted in as starters on this team, and Michal Kempny seems to be the next closest to a sure thing. But who else will make up the other two defensive slots?
Gustav Forsling, Jan Rutta, Rozsival and Jordan Oesterle will all be in the mix at Blackhawks camp trying to make the case for a roster spot. But also don’t be surprised to see a move very early in the 2017-18 season by general manager Stan Bowman. Cody Franson’s name was rumored a while back. Could Bowman be waiting for some money to clear up after placing Marian Hossa on the long-term injured reserve?
Whatever the case may be and regardless of who may or may not be added, it is safe to say that every Blackhawks fan is very interested in what the blue line will look like come opening night. Blackhawks camp will be the first chance to see all of these players on the ice together.