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5 Defensemen Blackhawks Should Target In Free Agency

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TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 27: Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 27, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 27: Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 27, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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SAN JOSE, CA – JANUARY 07: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center on January 7, 2018 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA – JANUARY 07: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Los Angeles Kings at SAP Center on January 7, 2018 in San Jose, California (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Erik Karlsson

Last, but not least, we have Erik Karlsson, a man that needs no introduction. Let’s be honest, landing Karlsson is a long shot, but it’s fun to at least think about since the Blackhawks can technically afford him. Karlsson is 6’0″ 190 lbs and a right-handed defenseman. He is exactly what the Blackhawks need right now, especially on that top pairing with Duncan Keith.

Erik Karlsson had a falling out in Ottawa last season and the Senators finally traded him to the San Jose Sharks during this past offseason. The Sharks would become a dominant force and ended the regular season with the 6th best record in the NHL.

In his 1st season with the Sharks, Erik Karlsson had a typical season by his standards. Although he missed some time with a groin injury, Karlsson still managed to post an impressive 45 points (3G, 42A) in 53 games with a 6 ± rating.

Erik Karlsson is well known for being an offensive aficionado, but he’s much more than that. He blocked 100+ shots four times in his 10-year career, and has 956 total blocks in 680 games. Of course, the power play would reap the benefits of having Karlsson quarterback the PP. With talent comes big contracts, so Karlsson (29 in May) has at least one more payday left.

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For comparison, his teammate Brent Burns (34), is currently on Year 2 of an 8-year, $64 mil ($8 mil AAV) contract. Erik Karlsson is currently at $6.5 mil AAV which is a bargain. It’s not out of the question for him to end up in the range of $8-9.5 mil AAV next season, and he might even see $10 mil AAV, if a team gets desperate enough.

Final Thoughts

Signing at least one of these defensemen would certainly help turn things around in a hurry. The Blackhawks also have some promising defensemen making their way to the NHL, so it’s just a matter of time before we see improvement. That improvement could come as soon as next year, and that optimism has the city of Chicago buzzing with excitement.

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